Saturday, June 26, 2010

Three is a Magic Number, III: Trip and Fall Down

Repeat after me, Grasshopper: Power is not taken away, but given away. A power struggle only exists when power (authority) is forced. The moment power is in the process of being proven, it is tossed out there and is up for grabs, like a fumbled football, and each player scrambles to try to gain control, and in the process does more extreme and intense actions to do so. Authority and power are better held, calmly and gently- and guarded from struggle be avoiding pushing it on anyone, especially children.

Say it, learn it, live it. Screw up. Repent. Make amends. Over and over and over. And somehow, one day, you will look back to where you were, see where you are, and find that you have improved.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Three is a Magic Number, II: Pre-Three Silliness

Well-Baby Visit of Vincent

- We all trooped into the waiting room of our family doctor (a rather chatty osteopath and his wife, a PA, run the practice) to discover that there were not one, but two pharmaceutical reps in chairs. This instantly put a giant bunch in my shorts, as I wasn't in the mood to be trapped in an examination room with an active almost-three year old and a two month old. I can only keep her away from the tempting, candy-store style glass containers of cotton balls and tongue dispensers for so long before she decides that the battle must now commence.

The Astra-Zeneca rep immediately went into "people-person" mode and smiled at Gianna and said "Hi!" Gianna, not a fan of strangers interacting with her or potentially trying to usurp her role as "the big sister," made a derisive noise and flapped her hand at him in a shoo-ing manner. He wisely did not pursue the interaction further, but then made the grave mistake of clearly talking about her with the other rep in the waiting room. The two of them smiled and pointed at her and whispered together. I walked around the chairs where our Sherpas had deposited all of our gear and did the "Mom dance" to keep Vincent happy in the Mei Tai. Gianna suddenly whirled around in her chair and, while yelling, "I'm gonna SKUNK you!" she crouched in a skunk position. And then blasted an earth-shattering fart in the direction of the pharmaceutical reps. They died laughing, while I stood at the cross-roads of Laugh Hysterically and Die of Embarrassment. I decided, after nearly chewing off the inside of my cheeks, to remind her to make sure her body is safe when she is on chairs.

Vincent's First Beer

- I always sort of knew that at some point in the future, Gianna would supply Vincent with a beer, and yet, really didn't know it would happen so soon. As I cleaned up after dinner one evening, Gianna grabbed Mr. Clarateaches' almost-empty beer bottle and tried making train noises with it. After having a wonderful time blowing air over the top of the bottle, I heard her say lovingly to her most adoring fan (who was chilling in the swing), "Vin-Cent, do you want to try it too?" My attempt at flying around the counter top divider was too slow, and Vincent smelled like a sweaty frat boy for the rest of the evening.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Three is a Magic Number

Veggie Tales are on the TV, the nearly three-month-old is sleeping on me, and the nearly three-year old has leaned against me, pinched "the squishy part" of my arm (her favorite comfort method) and has fallen asleep.

In only training pants. Couch, brace yourself.

As the water system is on the blink (is inundating my house with major iron and manganese) I am exempt from any type of cleaning involving water. By my own command. Thus sayeth the Clara. So I'll start another rambling series on my blog.

Three is truly "The Crucible" when it comes to ages and stages that children go through. A taller and more potty-adept version revisits around age 13, but it's really just the same thing. Three year olds wake up in the morning with the thought: "What shall I conquer today? And how shall I mete out the torture when I hit an obstacle?" And this is where parents can either help or harm: it's time to either jump right into the pool and help sort this out into appropriate manifestations, or to punitively squash and shame and ridicule. Being an "appropriate manifestations" fan myself, we're steering towards that direction.

It's easy to look down at your sleeping newborn, and your adorable, new-to-sitting 6 month old, and your freshly toddling one year old and say, "I will never harm you." Three is the age where the adults are sorted out from random infantile morons who happen to procreate. Strong words, yes, but adulthood is truly a state of being in control of one's own actions. Children have to learn this (hence the term"childish." If a child can't behave in a childish manner, when exactly can they? Post adolescence? By pop media accounts, one might actually be persuaded of that.)

So what, then? Should we allow threes to "rule the house?" To dictate every move we make? Somehow that seems to be the default option that most people like to leap to, when they discover that we fully plan on using gentle discipline methods with our children- no punitive, shaming, arbitrary,"take that you little brat," juvenile nonsense around here. It certainly would feel pretty satisfying to land a smack on my child when she's pushing all of my buttons at once, but what exactly would that teach her?

Adults who really do want to guide and teach and model grace and methods of amending mistakes, to the right. Those of you who are retributive, vindictive, and do not own your emotions and have no desire to do so, you have a seat over there. Everyone in between, who want to do the right thing but finds themselves caught up in how they were parented, perhaps it is time to examine how we were parented and "re-parent" ourselves. Especially those of us whose childhoods were "black and blue and red all over," mindfully owning our emotions will be one of the very best tools in our bag of parenting tricks. Our kids, wonderful and wild, loud and clumsy, loving and greeting each new day as exactly that- a chance for a fresh new beginning, deserve exactly that.

Here we go...