Summer has arrived. We are enjoying the warm weather, spending lots of time with friends, and less structure in life. By ‘less structure in life,’ I mean leisurely mornings sipping coffee and refusing to rush into the day. 😀
Last week was a bit rough though. Lots of time with friends is fun but also causes Lilly to be over tired which leads to overly emotional responses to minor issues. It also seems to result in memory lapses whereby she forgets she is supposed to listen the FIRST time she is asked to do something. My patience thresh-hold was not at all aided by the fact that allergy medication I’ve been taking seems to be interfering with sleep. Needless to say, it was a very trying week. The kind where bedtime can’t come fast enough.
It all came to a head last Friday when I was busy trying to prep food for company we were having and Lilly was supposed to be cleaning her room. Now, I KNOW she requires guidance and constant redirection while cleaning her room. She invariably decides every toy she is “putting away” should be set aside because she wants to play with it when she is done cleaning her room. This results in the mess merely being redistributed. She works best when she is told “Put away your legos. Don’t worry about anything else right now. Just the legos.” Focusing on one thing helps. However, being busy, and tired, and therefore not entirely rational myself, I decided that the kid should just CLEAN her entire room, all on her own this time. I mean how hard is it? I may as well have told her she should stop being four. After an hour and a half of failing to clean and exhibiting the behavior she does EVERY time she cleans her room, I told her that if she did not stop playing and clean I would bring a garbage bag into her room and put anything that was still on the floor into the garbage bag AND she would have to stay in her room while our friends were over. She would not be allowed to play.
So…when she inevitably did NOT clean her room, did I calmly follow through with my promise? No. I grabbed a garbage bag, slamming the cabinet shut in the process and stormed into her room, angrily reprimanding, as I grabbed and shoved whatever I could into the bag, “If you CAN’T take care of the toys you have, then OBVIOUSLY, you don’t need to HAVE these toys!”
It was not my best parenting moment. It was made worse by the fact that I knew it was partially my fault. Should she have stopped playing and obeyed? Absolutely. Was it unreasonable for me to expect her to clean the entire room independently when I know she requires guidance and redirection to be successful? Yes. But I seemed to have used up all my parenting patience earlier in the week by keeping my cool during her over-tired meltdowns and trying to have rational conversations about self-control and gentleness. I probably undid any progress we’d made on that front with my little tirade that exhibited the exact opposite of those two fruits of the spirit. I was done. I mean DONE with Lilly. If you’re a parent, please tell me you’ve been there before.
Anyhow, this weekend I started thinking we really need to plan some FUN together as a family. We’ve been tired and cranky all too much lately and we need to change our pattern and enjoy spending some time together. Andy and I decided it’s time for our annual “S’mores for Breakfast” tradition next weekend. In the mean time, we come to today:
Trinity had an afternoon playdate. As soon as she was out the door, Lilly got a twinkle in her eye and asked, “Since Trin is gone, can me and you go get some ice cream?” I could see she was relishing the thought of a little one on one time so I told her “Let me find my purse so I can get my wallet and we’ll go.”
“I have money!” She proudly declared, “I can pay for the ice cream and I can give them the money!”
It’s true, my grandparents had sent her some ‘ice cream’ money for her birthday and it was still in her jar. I helped her count out how much to bring, she deposited it in her purse, and we set off for our date. Pride and excitement were evident in her peppy walk and cheerful chatter as we walked to the gas station near our house. Here she is just prior to leaving: After our half mile jaunt, Lilly quickly zeroed in on which kind she wanted. I told her I would have the same. The kid has good taste in ice cream! She proudly paid for our treats and received her change : Lilly decided we should sit in the grass nearby and eat. We counted cars, had a quick chat with some new friends who came by, and Lilly complimented a passer-by on her purple hair. In return, she told Lilly she really liked her boots. Lilly snuggled up to me as we savored our ice cream bars and said, “Momma?”
“I love having time alone with you.”
“I love having time alone with you too kiddo.”