Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Gorilla Dance

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On any given day, at any given boys like to try to surprise me with a random tantrum.

The tantrum always proceeds one of the following:

1. Someone got HURT. Some way. Some how.
Could've been emotionally or physically. And it didn't have to actually happen. It could've ALMOST happened.
  • Someone called said child that he was a "poo poo head"!
  • Someone shined a light in said child's eye and BLINDED them!
  • Said child was ALMOST choked to death by some other child!
2. Someone got told to DO SOMETHING that they didn't want to do. Imagine that. Us. Having to be parents. Whoddathunkit?! (ie. "Clean your room!" "Pick up your shoes out of the middle of the floor!" "Stop peeling carrots on the living room floor!")

3. Someone got told that it is time for BED.

4. Someone decided that waking up was NOT FAIR.

5. Someone is HANGRY.

6. Someone is TIRED.

7. Any other reason that seems unreasonable/unfair/mean to said child.

My boys, and I say the boys because the two oldest have thankfully pretty much surpassed this that leaves the boys....they are just a hot mess some days. Usually #5 or #6 begin the trantrum and then the rest fall into play making the tantrum a full out melt down.

I have tried everything.

I've spanked.
I've "1...2...3'd".
I've used timeout in different areas of the house.
I've taken away privileges and toys.
I've threatened to leave them. (Not my proudest moments!)
....and I've yelled. a LOT.

I'm so over it. I'm over the yelling. I'm tired of spanking. Time out and "123" isn't working. What GIVES? I feel like the only parent with unruly kids. Kids who wave their napkin/fork/toy/tongue in your face like a "you will surrender to me" way of trying to get your attention. I'm over the disrespect. I'm OVER the whining and tantrums and feeling like I'm LOOSING when it comes to this game of parent vs. child.

My boys have totally gotten the best of me. And I'm done.

So yesterday, I spent a little time in the Word. I was doing my daily Bible study and I came across some words by Beth Moore...

"We have only one true source of results and that is intercessory prayer. We can pray diligently for the Holy Spirit to intervene in the life of an individual and for that person to respond favorably."

Now, in the context of this study, she is talking about reaching unbelievers. But for some reason, this stung my heart as a mom. It opened my eyes to the PARENTAL-TYPE POWER of the Holy Spirit. The Father wanting to lead His children home and to ways that are pleasing to the Lord.

For me, I took this as a reminder, a very powerful and perfectly-timed sticky note of the soul that when my children are being bullheaded and stubborn and "poopy heads", it is my God-given right as a Beloved child of Christ, to call upon the Holy Spirit to enter my home, my life, my children's lives....and help us to remove the behavior (ie. sin) that is taking possession of our hearts and attitudes.

For me it is yelling.
I never feel good after I yell. It's NEVER productive....well hardly ever. It may get their attention to stop things but it has progressively made my children louder and louder with each other and aggressive toward each other as well.

Now don't hear me wrong. If my child is running across a parking lot, they are going to get yelled at. And I'm probably gonna swat a behind! Sometimes it's necessary. But most times, I find myself tense, getting even more loud and feeling left frustrated, sad and beating myself up about not being able to parent my children effectively.

I got a phone call yesterday from a sweet young-at-heart mom friend of mine. She has five grown children of her own and grandchildren close to my age. She's got experience! She's feisty and I love her! So her calling yesterday was no coincidence. We talked about our crazy schedule, nasty bedtime scenes that make me shudder as I walk away in tears. We discussed how my boys often have to be the "men of the house" because of my husband's work schedule. How praising them and giving them responsibilities builds their character and gives them joy (even while they may complain!) and grows them into strong men.

I clung to every word knowing that I needed it just as much as the boys do.
The boys are feeding off of me.
I'm tired. I'm worn out. I'm not satisfied with certain areas of my life. I'm tired. I'm worn out.
Get the picture here folks? I'm exhausted.
Yes. I signed up for "all these kids". I love them DEARLY. Or else I wouldn't care. I would ignore them or pretend there isn't an issue. Or I would let the issue continue to escalate until it is truly a problem and isn't cute or just a phase anymore. I love my babies more than they'll ever ever understand until they themselves are parents. The love is immeasurable. But the frustration can sometimes be so intense that you lose a bit of the joy in the process of parenting. I don't want that. I don't want something tragic to happen to make me realize just how small some things are and they just ARE NOT WORTH SWEATING!

And sometimes, boys especially, sometimes they just need to work things out themselves. I don't always need to intervene. And not every tantrum needs a reaction.

From what I'm deducing, my youngest boy is a tad jealous of his new baby sister. I figure my tone of voice is not helping it all....

"Hey Jasper! GET OFF YOUR SISTER! How was your day? I SAID STOP! Have you been good? GEEEEEZ WHY CAN'T YOU LISTEN!?!"

Yesterday, I had prepared myself for no more yelling. I was going to need the restraint of the Holy Spirit, but I was going to keep my cool. I'm determined to figure this out and make our home a peaceful one. So yesterday, after leaving work, I had to pick up the youngest two from Maw's house. I decided when I went in that I would make a point to acknowledge my son before I even looked at Alanna.

"Hey Jasper! (big hugs) How are you?! I love you buddy! How was your day?"

He's doing his normal crazy self being loud. (He didn't get his Bible study in and he didn't talk to a wise toddler for advice. :P ) I gave him a few minutes of attention and honestly, I could see a slight difference in his behavior. But as SOON as I started talking to his sister, he started jumping on me trying to knock me down. He got louder. He got more silly. But I realized to that I had caught myself talking to his sister in a much sweeter, drawn out voice. "Hey sissy girlllllll!! I loooove you!!! Hey pretty thannng!" And you know, I almost started blaming myself but instead of the blame made me realize the opportunity I have to just love all over my son and make him feel just as loved. I don't have to stop loving on her and using that voice, I just need to recognize his reaction to that and see that he needs that too. He needs my words of affirmation. They all need my love and that's why God gave me them!!!

We got home and hubby wasn't home yet. I had to nurse the baby then get dinner started. While nursing, which is when they decide to display their best tantrums, the boys were fighting over the Christmas village houses. One decided that they need to be in a straight line, the other most-definitely disagreed, they needed to be just like he already had them. A struggle ensued, I could feel the thermostat of my blood pressure start to rise. I decided to take action with my new mom-me. I quietly called them over. Had both of them look at me in my eyes and I firmly but gently let them know that tonight would be different. There would be ZERO fighting. ZERO yelling. No bickering or whining. No nuthin'. I was done. Over it. And I meant business.

"Do you understand?"
"Yes ma'am."

......."But I wanted them in a line".
"NO! I want them behind the lamp, like this!"

Seriously, not even two seconds later they had begun again. One kid ALMOST hurt the other kid by "burning his eyes with the lamp".

Oldest son went to timeout in his room to cry, wash away the scorched eyeballs with his own tears. Like I said, I was done. It was a new "day".

I got done nursing and headed to the kitchen for dinner. I talked to my oldest about his reaction, about how he has to start making good choices about what to react to. And that I'm pretty sure after being torched with flashlights in my eyeballs by several little boys over the past 12 years, I've yet to lose an eyeball. He'll, too, be ok!!

Dinner happened. They helped. Salad was spilled. I kept calm. It was amazing! The boys were picking up on my lack of raising my voice and reacting to every little thing. They had responsibilities. I even learned that Lukas is being taught at school this week about manners and how to set a dinner table. It was nice!

Once daddy got home, we set down for dinner. There were a few tense moments. But I took the opportunity to talk to the boys about what I had read earlier in the day. About the mom and children who have a keyword to use when someone is getting out of control. The children were given permission to tell their mom she was yelling by saying the key word and vice versa. We talked about acting like a gorilla when you really just feel like you are about to lose your cool. Of course, the started a round of chest beating and "ooh ooh ah ah-ing" and a few "ok, time to calm down and eat your dinner". But we decided together that we would do the Gorilla Dance whenever we felt like we, or someone else, were reaching that point of transformation into monster-child/mom.

"Mommy take a picture of me with my salad!"
Later that night, I was in the bath...hubby had bedtime duty....and here it came. Bed time. See #3 up there. Tantrums ALWAYS ensue for the little man. He always gets upset. Even with a countdown/warning system. So I let him know he needed to brush his teeth and get ready for bed. No, he couldn't learn to knit tonight. He started to whine.

I took a deep breath and said "GORILLA DANCE".

He turned and got the BIGGEST GRIN and, folks,........he brushed his teeth and went to bed.

Last night was a success. It may not always be. We may have to adapt, change our keyword, I'll have to spank or use timeout, of that I'm sure. I'll regress, they'll forget. But for now, we gorilla dance. And I plan to continue to learn my children's love languages and personalities. I'm determined. And if it's my turn to gorilla dance....I'll dance just like no one is watching and have my piece of humble pie!!
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