Friday, July 20, 2012

the awkward business of raising adults

And thus we enter a new phase of Chaos.

I remember when chaos meant diaper blowouts, unexpected nursing needs, and generally any sort of mess that could be wiped up with a wet cloth. Oh and those times when the toddler laid face down in the entryway of the grocery store and screamed. About something or other.

We are past those early days of screaming, sticky, smelly chaos and have entered new territory, the kind of territory that can be described as subtle, nuanced, and downright tricky. No diaper wipes or popsicle rewards will work here. While the boys have had responsibilities around the house for some years (they are 9 and 11 now), it is time to step it up a notch. This became clear to me yesterday morning.

"Grumpy" and "harpy-like" haven't suited me well, and the boys don't enjoy screechy mommy either. I don't blame them. It was time to get ready for day camp again, but I couldn't bring myself to list off instructions one more time. Something in me shifted (thank you, God) and I suddenly (literally) understood.

"Hey guys, let me know when you need a ride to camp," I chatted in a surprisingly relaxed manner. And then I sat down with some coffee and chocolate to browse the web while I waited. Quite lovely. We were only 15 minutes late to camp, and the boys' sunblock was mostly rubbed in. Poor blotchy ghosties.

I've known about the "Love and Logic" method since before my kids were born. [That's some clever packaging, but let's admit that learning responsibility is a concept that's been around for eons.] Okay. So I'd considered this approach before, but the timing didn't seem right. Uno, while highly competent in some areas, has taken a bit more time to come around in the Awareness and Focus departments. Coupled with a low frustration tolerance and propensity to be hard on himself, I wanted to wait until I felt sure he could succeed with the new parameters. It's hard enough to learn without added difficulties.

Getting to camp today went more smoothly, but not without bumps. We only arrived a couple of minutes late, however Uno failed to apply his sunblock before we left. He solved the problem by pouring a large puddle of sunblock in his hand to apply during the ride. Unfortunately, he ended up with sunblock blobs on his clothes and lunch bag too, but hey! We did it. I stepped back, they stepped up, and really, sunblock on clothing is not an issue. Learning to take care of yourself is.

This phase seems awkward upon first glance, but I like it. It's a necessary awkwardness. While I would have loved to delve in earlier, I think this timing is right. Previously, there's a good chance that Uno would have ended up on the floor in a flood of tears about the sunblock, but today, after he uttered a panicked shriek, he thought of a solution and did it in a timely manner. Major. WHEW. (Dos, in true second-child fashion, picks it all up by observing and then runs with it.)

I think we may be on to something here.


Ellen said...

Yay! Personal responsibility--it's a good thing. I love the L&L philosophy of letting kids experience natural consequences when the stakes are low so that they learn some problem solving and resilience to deal with things when the stakes are much higher.

kyooty said...

YES!!! I just went down to make sure my 13yrold was still alive, it's 2pm, he didn't get up. I then said "there's the fridge"

Hi Kooky said...

Ladies, we must be strong. Here's to parenting!