Monday, December 08, 2008

Most Alive Monday: Love's Confusing Joy

" If you want what visible reality
can give, you're an employee.
If you want the unseen world,
you're not living your truth.
Both wishes are foolish,
but you'll be forgiven for forgetting
that what you really want is
love's confusing joy." - Rumi

It seems like one day they are trying to walk, and the next they are trying to fly. I find myself stiffening a bit and holding my breath when I hear the call of the wild, "MAMA WATCH THIS!". It gets harder and harder to photograph him without a motion blur. The moments pass so quickly, how I wish I can slow things down a bit...just a little bit.

And my sweet boy has begun the fine art of "talking back" and on the one hand I'm glad that he feels safe enough to be so contrary, but on the other hand I find it hurtful. I'm uncertain how to handle it. Last, night there was some acting out while decorating our Xmas tree:

Me: Satch, do you want to decorate the tree?
Satch: Yes
Me: Ok, then if you continue to kick the ornaments which can break or shake the tree which can fall on you, you are choosing NOT to decorate the tree tonight. You will NOT decorate the tree if you continue to kick the ornaments or shake the tree.
Satch: YES I WILL!

He has also become very rough and is having a hard time following directions. Is this normal for his age?

I should mention that Satch is officially (finally) weaned. The child-lead weaning was a long and winding road! Though he was only nursing at nap time, he has now completely stopped. Dare I say, that his new (and not so pleasant behaviors) started thereafter?!?!

Any thoughts?

Love's confusing joy....

*About Most Alive Monday: I've decided to make at least one "most alive choice" each day and post my favorite each Monday. This, of course, is to motivate me to consciously "live juicy"! I hope you'll join me and share your "most alive moment" in the comments section so we may inspire each other.

You may also post photos of your "most alive moments" in my most alive flickr pool! (If you post a photo in pool, be sure
to include your link in the comment)

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posted by Wendy at 5:56 AM


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You will probably get lots of thoughts on this, but I do understand this assertiveness to be a "normal" developmental process. It is just limit testing, and if you gently and consistently enforce the "choice" that Satch has made, that is, have him sit on the steps until he decides he won't kick the ornaments, he'll eventually come around.

Regarding the roughness, perhaps you can tailor some activities to deflect whatever he is doing that is "rough" - for example, if he is constantly jumping off of your sofa, then perhaps a mini trampoline in the basement would give him an acceptable alternative.

Finally, since the weaning was child-led, I wouldn't focus too much on whether the weaning has led to these behaviors (which, I'm sorry to report, amuse my kids to NO END), because what is the alternative? Forced nursing? LOL.

Anyway, Satch is just growing and changing, and I so GET your desire to slow things down...some stages of development are so exquisitely sweet...the upside is that this "talking back" too shall pass....

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Beth said...

I think our little guys are roughly the same age and I do think you're right about feeling safe enough to push... My guy is testing more... Seeing if he can change the "rules," and how. He's learning about language and feelings and body language... Cause and effect. It can be really challenging to remember that my limits make him feel safe, in the end. So, no answers here but I do think it's all exactly as it should be around here and I can completely relate with how you feel.

For the winter/boy craziness this has been helpful in our house:

(Relatively-safe energy release!)

10:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One word: independence! And now you know that as hard as it has seemed up to now, it can get harder when they meet the force of your authority with an equal force of their own. Take yourself out of it, your feelings, and see that it is quite impersonal and inevitable. Even as you take your feelings out of it continue to cover your ground: you are the sole voice of appropriateness, safety and sensibility. This year, this 3, is a transition time when they learn to internalize your voice. He is secure enough to test it. Now you be secure enough to meet him at the mark.

It might help to know that in the developmental pedagogy of it, age 3 is called a "preschooler." Not yet ready to follow the rules, but learning how. While at age 2 a child's tantrums can seem quite outsized and rather insane, at age 3 they are remarkably strategic and clever. Keep your wits and watch his flourish.


11:23 AM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Thanks, Anon. It's a roller coaster over ride over here, lol. By the way, we did pick up a used trampoline on craigslist a few months ago, but are planning on giving it to him for Xmas. I don't mind the aerials in the living room, though I admit, it does make me nervous.

11:27 AM  
Anonymous vickie said...

i feel you Wendy. as all the comments have stated, sounds right on target with his developmental growth. Lord knows i've been reading piaget, dewey, montessori, etc. etc. etc.

this weekend I had to hold Julian's hand in the parking lot...he told me I won't! in no uncertain terms and i just was blank as how to respond other than echo back his feelings to him and tell him what we were going to do at that moment. but it just leaves you shocked sometimes.

i got angry....wish i could have remained calm and this is an area I too need more info on. How to deal with those moments...what to say.


2:17 PM  
Blogger wayfarer said...

Sounds a lot like my son. They think they can do anything at this age and are learning boundaries. It's confusing for them. They feel bigger and are able to do more things. Everything i say no to now turns into him trying to compromise with me or flat out saying "no, i am going to do it." Sigh. It's exhausting but it's an important milestone too.

8:34 PM  
Blogger Cheryn said...

just sending a hug, as i can completely empathize and know that it is indeed challenging.
we actually had a bit of a rough day today also, and during naptime i started looking for some "answers"... finding some of the articles on the continuum concept website comforting- refreshing perspective, and refocusing.
i love karen and beth's comments.
loving energy times a billion being sent out- catch it!

10:41 PM  
Anonymous Annie said...

Love the picture! That looks like fun.

I haven't read all the comments yet and I'm not sure if it's kosher to make comments like this but I'm trying to be kind and sincere.

I'm concerned that what you are calling his "choice" to not continue with tree trimming if he doesn't behave properly is merely veiled punishment. In which case, it would be better to call it like it is instead of additionally making him feel badly for his rowdy behaviour and/or upping the ante for him to rise to the occasion. After all, I'm sure his intentions aren't actually malicious.

Remember that it takes two to have a power struggle. You can take yourself out of the equation. Of course it doesn't feel good to be talked back to but it's worth staying creative and flexible in the moment. "Working with" rather than "doing to", yk? Maybe the very breakable ornaments don't go out this year or you can find a activity to do that is physical and come back the trimming later?

Have you read Non Violent Communication? It could be a good tool to have on hand to be able to offer yourself some self empathy and help give you perspective to stay compassion in the tough moments.

Warm thoughts...

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Stacy (mama-om) said...

First, thank you for putting yourself out there for comments. I know it can be awkward and intense to talk about how we parent...

I remember when my son turned three that there was definitely a shift in our relationship and that I needed to find new skills and insights to remain open and clear.

Others have already said this but the biggest challenge for me was to not take things personally, and to always (try to) ascribe positive intent to my children's actions. Children (we all do really) want to be connected, respected, and autonomous... they just don't have the skills (not many of us do) to express these things positively or politely or however else we think we want them to express them.

So, whenever my children (mostly my older son, who is five) and I are having a conflict or tension... I try to create some space to listen to myself (there are often many internal dialogues going on about how disruptive my son is or why hasn't he learned this yet or I am incompetent mother, etc etc.); and listen to him (what is he trying to express?).

Then I try to put it all together... what I am comfortable/able to do to help him meet my expectations?

In the case of the ornaments, here is how it might have played out for me (since we had the same experience last week!)

I would take a few breaths... noticing that I felt tense. I might realize that I have a need for order and respect (for special items) and that I am expecting behavior from him that matches this.

Then I would move on to him... I might see that he doesn't understand this expectation, or simply that it is not an expectation he is capable of meeting on his own. He might have a particular need to move his body right now. Or maybe he is feeling my stress about the ornaments breaking and is getting even more riled up because of that...

I would choose to remove the source of my stress (the breakable ornaments), and I would try to relax and connect to him from a centered place so that he could center, too. I might tell him, "I'm not willing to let these ornaments break so I'm putting them away for now. Will you help me put the rest of these on the tree?"

I second the recommendation for Nonviolent Communication. And signing up for Scott Noelle's Daily Groove. Also, reading this short article about counterwill by Gordon Neufeld might help shed light on Satch's "YES I WILL" exclamation. :)

I wrote about finding my center before acting/talking here. And really, my entire blog is about finding my center and remaining non-coercive in my parenting! LOL. It is a challenge and a calling for me.

Blessings blessings to you---

(and omigod, did I just write the longest comment EVER?)

10:53 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

I want to thank you all for your thoughts on this subject. It means so much to me. I feel there is so much to be shared and learned from each other. I did not like the way our tree trimming experience felt and that is why I opened this discussion. As an artist I know that in order to gain perspective you have to step away from the painting and look at it from a distance. So I gave a shout to all of you because I needed to know what it looked like from your vantage point...and I thank you.

I think I've said this here before, but I'll say it again: For me motherhood is like a dance... sometimes my timing is right and we are quite graceful. Other times, I can't find the beat and we are stepping on each other's toes. This was one of my ungraceful moments that is certain.

Some things I try to remind myself: - we do eventually find our rhythm
- we are both doing our best
- we are both learning

Coincidentally, I've been poking around on the NVC site since Satchel's 3rd birthday trying to find training or a coach in my area. So if there is anyone out there reading this and can hook me up with NVC, I would be eternally grateful. AND even more coincidental, I'm on the daily groove list :-)

Thank you for being there and for connecting with me.

7:44 AM  
Blogger jessamyn said...

just to let you know....i think i may be perfecting the art of stepping on toes.
you are such a beautiful mother and i learn so much from you.
in peace and sending you as much breath as i can...

4:25 PM  

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