heart in the clouds

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Invoking and Revoking freedom all in 24 hours

I'm one of "those" moms who doesn't let her child go in anyone else's home or backyard 99% of the time. Call it overprotective, strict, whatever...it's who I am and I make no excuses about it.  With that in mind, Z has been asking me for several weeks why he can't go in Riley's backyard with the other kids on our street. I've been telling him it's simple..."I don't know her mom." Well he's offered to tell me the mom's name...umm not enough sweetie!  So finally Monday evening, the inevitable happened.  Riley's mom was home...I was home...Z realized we were both home...so I couldn't deny it and I went to talk to her. She is very nice and we agreed that Z could go in her backyard and jump on Riley's trampoline because she was supervising and only allowing two or three to jump at a time. I told him to walk home with Olivia (8 year old girl almost next door) when it started getting dark. I went back in the house and nearly cried because it was just surreal that I had to grant a new freedom. He came home when I called his name and all was well.

Fast forward to Tuesday...all Z wanted to do on the way home was talk about going to Riley's house again. I told him he wouldn't be going everyday, but I was okay with him going that day. I asked him if Riley's mom was home...he said yes and off he went riding his bike alongside Olivia again. I watched him all the way down the street...then when he disappeared behind the house, I went inside. About 20 minutes later I hear screaming coming from down the street...saw Z in Riley's driveway, asked if it was him, he said no...blah blah...5 minutes later I notice him walking his bike back up the hill to our house. I walked outside and asked him what he was doing....

Z: I just wanted to tell you I love you
Me: Aww that's sweet, I love you too....but what I was really thinking was...uh oh what's under that?
Z: and I wanted to tell you I'm sorry that I lied...
Me: Lied about what?
Z: about screaming...it was me screaming too, I'm sorry I lied mommy.
Me: okay, thank you for telling the truth...now why are you coming home...is Riley's mom really there?
Z: well no
Me: You should come inside right away.

So I went inside, counted to whatever number it took before he got in the door...sat him down face to face and asked him what the bigger lie was...that he screamed or about how Riley's mom was home when she really wasn't.  He was very quiet, hanging his head...he knew he was wrong and I could tell he was wondering what I was going to do about it.

Me: You know the only reason I let you go play over there was because I knew Riley's mom was watching you and making sure you were safe, right?
Z: yes
Me: And you know that I put a lot of trust in you by letting you go somewhere without me, right?
Z: yes
Me: I would be so sad if something happened to you. It's not okay to go in someone's backyard when they are not home and it's not okay to lie about things just so you can do what you want to do. When you realized she was not home, you should've come home right away to tell me.
Z: Yes ma'am...so can I go back outside and ride my bike?
Me: No sir, you will not be going back out today and maybe not the rest of the week.

Z started crying and went upstairs...I could hear him sobbing in his bed, but more than that I could hear pop sounds outside. So I went to the window to see four boys running around houses where no one was home...chasing each other with toy guns...then I went outside to listen better...heard the familiar sound of rattling bb's going into one of the guns....by now Z was standing by my side...telling me the boys were shooting bb guns at each other.  I watched for another 15 minutes...asked one boy if there were real bb's in his gun and he said "why?" RIght there, I knew I was right...so I waited a bit longer...overheard them saying not to shoot the girls, to only stab them with sticks....I walked over the boy's house and asked his mom if she knew the boy was out playing with bb guns...she said she thought it was just airsoft guns with those plastic bb's. Yes, I know what they are....I even bought a few for Christmas gifts.  But last time I checked, you could still hurt someone with that and you aren't supposed to be shooting them AT people.   Last thing I heard before I left her porch from her son:

"Well the good news is that our airsoft war is over...the bad news is I shot so-in-so in the face and neck...but I was aiming at his body not his face."

Yeah Z's done playing with those boys...at least when the guns are out. I told him so. I told him those boys don't know how to use the guns and there is no parent outside watching and he's just not going to be a part of it.  Whew....if only I thought that would solve all the problems of the kids on our street :(

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I've got a new attitude!

In the words of Patti LabBelle I've got a new attitude...almost...I need a new attitude and I'm getting there. New year, new attitude. I'm always harping on Z about his attitude, his tone, his volume....but honestly I bet a lot of it is him modeling me and that's a hard pill to swallow. Admitting your part of your child's problems is well...nearly impossible.   But I think if we all stop and take a breather and really examine ourselves...a lot of the way our children act is a direct reflection of the way they see us handling the roller coasters of the day to day. 

I've read that in countless parenting books, blogs and magazines and agreed, but never really internalized it. I've been really frustrated with the way Z talks to us, especially when he's really unhappy about something. But if I'm honest...how do I talk and react when I'm unhappy about something...pretty much the same way....raise my voice (as if this will really motivate anyone to change their ways, actions or ideas), put things down hard on the counter (to show my feelings uh huh) Go in a room and nearly slam the door behind me and cry....pout but only if someone else is around to see it...these are hard things to admit, but I know I'm not alone.  I remember as a child, I couldn't stand being yelled at or to...it made me feel worse and it really made me not want to do anything, just built up anger in my own heart. I don't want Z to feel that way...crappy about himself, unmotivated to be good.  

Lately when I see him react to situations, I see myself as well and I just don't like it. I know I'm not totally to blame...a lot of it is also him just being 5 and not having a fully developed frontal lobe!! If you want to know more about how this plays into a child's behavior..I'll post some info at the end...very interesting and really explains a lot!!  I've read the frontal lobe doesn't fully develop until the 20s...so what's my excuse? Maybe it starts to deteriorate as soon as it's fully developed...yes!! That must be it hahahaha

Regardless of all the why's and how's...we've got to change. I keep telling him to talk to me with respect. I have to try harder to talk to him with respect, even if I'm angry. I tell him to pay attention to what I'm saying...I need to pay attention to what he says as well.  I tell him it's okay to be angry, but it's not okay to act angry in such a way that it hurts someone else mentally or physically...I need to make sure I'm following my own advice when I'm angry. I need to make it a point to keep my voice down and not talk in a disrespectful way. I tell him I want him to ask for the things he needs with a polite tone...adding the appropriate pleases, thank yous, sorrys, etc. I need to remember to also use these courtesies with him.  He's my child and yes as the adults and parents, his daddy and I are in charge...but we need to "rule" with gentleness, boldness and humility...hard things to combine in leadership for sure!!

I found an awesome blog post listing all the proverbs that deal with anger
I think this one is my favorite...“The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.” (Proverbs 17:14, ESV)." Picture a dam holding back a mighty river...damage occurs and a little breech begins in the dam letting out a trickle of water...but sometimes the breech grows and the water begins to find it's way out...it's built up with so much force and pressure, it can eventually breech the entire dam and gush forth with such power that it destroys everything in its path...wow.  Please, God do not let my anger be like that...help me patch the hole before it even lets any water out. 

I really do love that kid with all my heart and I want him to know that above anything. I also want him to learn respect, how to control anger before it grows into sin, kindness and gentleness. I want him to see our leadership of his childhood as guidance and love...not control. 

One thing that happened recently regarding the "in charge" issue was Z asking me if I was I was the boss of the house...I was curious as to why he asked that...but it all came down to one observation he had "Well because you always ask daddy if he has on an undershirt and stuff." 

Okay now here's some frontal lobe info from wikipedia that I found fascinating:

The executive functions of the frontal lobes involve the ability to recognize future consequences resulting from current actions, to choose between good and bad actions (or better and best), override and suppress unacceptable social responses, and determine similarities and differences between things or events. Therefore, it is involved in higher mental functions.
The frontal lobes also play an important part in retaining longer term memories which are not task-based. These are often memories associated with emotions derived from input from the brain's limbic system. The frontal lobe modifies those emotions to generally fit socially acceptable norms.
In humans, the frontal lobe reaches full maturity around only after the 20s,[1] marking the cognitive maturity associated with adulthood.