Watching Shakespeare and Relishing the Moments

I never would have dreamed of reading Shakespeare to my kids when they were so young. My call to homeschooling and delving into the beauty of living books, has opened them (and me) up to a wide range of ideas, authors, and a taste for great literature, not to mention a love of history and science.

I’m pretty sure I had never seen or heard any Shakespeare until I was in high-school. My son however has been listening to me read Shakespeare (and has read a bit on his own), for a few years now.

He’s seven. Almost half of the age I believe I was when I was exposed to the Bard.

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I Was THAT Mom – Motherhood in the Trenches

Yes, today I was that mom.

I was the mom that after 10 minutes at the pool, had a screaming six year old, was loading up the cart and getting the 7 year old and 1 year old moving out of the pool area.

Yes, I was that mom.

The mom who started to walk out as the six year old continued his tantrum, knowing that he would follow as I turned the corner.

But to onlookers, I was that mom.

I was the mom leaving her child at the pool.

I was the mom who couldn’t handle being a mother.

Yes, I was that mom.

And while I walked, I thought about how hard it is to be a mom, knowing that your child may make the fun day planned a disaster. Not because he wants to, but because sometimes it is all a bit too much. Too many people, too much stimulation, too hungry, too tired, too much of anything can cause a whirlwind and with two other kiddos, it’s hard to catch the trigger before it happens.

Yes, the books all say, catch it before it starts and it will eventually go away. But when you are in the trenches, it’s really difficult to notice the buttons and triggers of each child. Every mom does their best, but we all need to realize sometimes you’ll miss it. Sometimes it happens when you least expect it. Sometimes it isn’t until you are looking back on the day, that you realize what the trigger may have been. Then you stash that trigger away and hope to remember. So that next time, you’ll do things a bit differently, in hopes that you will avoid the issue altogether. But you won’t always, and the circle will continue. It’s tough!

So today, I was that mom.

I was the one that missed the trigger that set off the tantrum. I was the one who’s son just had too much. And to the onlookers, I was the one to be judged today. I was the one that couldn’t control her son at the pool.

But while I was that mom today, I know that it is something we are working on.  I don’t want to control him, I want him to make the right choices, because he can weigh the consequences. It is something that takes time and nurturing.

I know that my son has the biggest heart and the most love of any child I have ever met and when you really get to know him that’s the first thing you will notice. But today, it wasn’t what you will remember. Today, he was that screaming boy at the pool.

So to those who see the mom with the screaming kid, don’t judge. Take a step back and put yourself in their situation, they are probably doing the best they can.

Instead of staring and judging, offer a smile and let them know you understand. Sometimes, that’s the confidence they need to make the downhill spiral stop.

Yes, today I was that mom, and I am sure I will be that mom again, but maybe next time you will see that we are all fighting some sort of battle and a friendly, understanding smile will go a long way.

Raising a Spirited Kid – Busy Weekends

After a crazy weekend, my spirited child needs a good break and I need some downtime as well. Unfortunately, there are some weeks that a down day is harder to arrange than others.

This past weekend and start to the week was a perfect example of how a busy weekend effects my spirited Mister Man.

We started Saturday with a soccer game and preparations for Sugar Plum’s baptism and party. It was a busy morning, the kids played while we prepared, but there was still something happening at all moments. A few hours later, we had Sugar Plum’s baptism which happened to fall right around the kids quiet time on a normal day.

Following the baptism family and friends joined us at our home to celebrate. Everyone had a great time, including the kids. But it was a late night after a busy day. Then Sunday, we had more people over to watch our hometown teams (Chiefs and Royals). It was another busy day with entertaining and loud crowded rooms. Sunday allowed for a bit more downtime, but still not the normal.

Mister Man made it through the weekend with relative ease. We had spent the week discussing the weekend’s agenda, so he was prepared for the day and what it entailed for him. I think this was key in making it through the weekend. His knowing the plan made him ready for the transitions, irregularity and crowds.

We survived the weekend, but Monday happens to be one of two days that we have sports scheduled in the afternoon/evening. Unfortunately, Monday’s are also a day that if school runs a bit longer than normal (which it did today) we do not have time to rest before trampoline and gymnastics. This is what I believe pushed Mister Man over the edge.

In retrospect, an easy relaxing day after the crazy weekend probably would have been the better option today. But truthfully, school today was fun and he had quite a bit of downtime between subjects (which is also why it took a bit longer than normal).

He was perfect through schoolwork and did great at his trampoline class this afternoon. But waiting for Sunshine to complete her gymnastics class proved to be too much. He had a hard time listening and behaving as expected. After a discussion, we agreed that it would be best if he sat by me and colored instead of running around with the others. When I say we agreed, I actually mean we both agreed, we talked about some other options then he suggested that he could color by me and maybe his friend would come to color with him. Which is exactly what happened and he was great through that time. Issues avoided.

Then, it was time for soccer practice. Getting a group of (10) 5 year old boys together at 6:00, when everyone is worn out from the day and more than likely hungry, is a disaster waiting to happen. For Mister Man, it was a continual hour of falling down, crying, playing again… by the time we left he was flooded and was throwing a tantrum.

It was impossible to get him to calm down there at the field with the two girls already loaded in the car, one close to yelling because she was gassy and hungry. I managed to calm him down enough to get his seat belt on so we could head for home. But he was definitely not ready to talk. The car ride home was short but the tantrum continued. At home I told him he needed to calm down and mommy needed to have a few minutes to calm herself. When we were both calm we would have a conversation, but as always, I refuse to listen or talk when there is not respect from both parties involved.

He went to his room to put on his pajamas and calm down. I went to get Sugar Plum fed.

As soon as he had calmed down, we had a discussion. We talked through his feelings, what was going on in his mind, what I had noticed, and then we discussed how he could have handled the situation better (problem solving). Soon he was ready to finish the last part of the day; he ate dinner and headed back to bed.

Tomorrow we had plans, but they were not absolutely necessary. We have canceled those plans and instead we are planning to have a relaxing day with nowhere to go. Quiet time/naps will be a necessary part of the day and hopefully a relaxing day will get us back on track for the rest of the week.

Hindsight is 20/20 and while we made it through today, maybe next time we can avoid some of the issues by being better prepared.

It is a daily struggle, but I’m working on it and so is he. Day by day, we make progress slowly, but we are trying and that’s what truly matters. One day hopefully he will be able to understand what he is feeling and stop the flood before it overwhelms him. Until then I am working to anticipate and prepare him for what lies ahead. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

Raising a Spirited Child – Intensity

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Intense – having or showing strong feelings or opinions; extremely earnest or serious.

In our household, intensity is one of the most apparent signs of our spirited child. He has a strong opinion and emotion for everything. He loves intensely. He gets upset intensely. He is on the extreme of every emotion.

One thing we deal with daily are tantrums. Tantrums are my button. Patience is definitely a struggle in these moments. In order to succeed in raising Mister Man well, I have to work on my patience and the way I handle my reactions to his tantrums. I can definitely tell a difference when I react quickly and yell versus when I take a breath, say a quick prayer for guidance and patience and then react.

Power struggles are a big issue for Mister Man. If he feels he cannot make a decision or is not being heard he will begin a tantrum immediately. This is a hard one for me as I want him to make decisions and I try my best to listen intently when he talks. But when he gets into the downward spiral, he yells, screams and still expects to be heard. In our house, we do not listen until he is calm and can speak with respect. But getting him to that point is hard.

One thing that has helped is getting on his level, staying calm and touching his shoulder. This shows him we are there for him. Staying calm is a great reminder of how we expect him to act. This does not mean I am giving in. I am still firm on my expectations. But telling him in a calm manner helps him hear me instead of shutting me out. In fact, many times he will immediately pull himself in for a hug and it isn’t long before he has calmed himself down. Once he is calm, it is much easier to discuss what happened and how he might handle it better next time. When he is calm he is able to hear what we are saying and participate in the conversation. Talking about the situation when he is upset is like talking to a wall, he hears nothing. Yelling at him when he is upset is the same, he has lost all ability to comprehend what is being said and has shut himself off from everything else. In fact, yelling only intensifies his reaction and adds to the time he needs to calm himself.  At this point in his life, helping him calm down is the only way to make a difference in the situation.

When I can stay calm and patient with him, he responds more quickly and in a much better way. It’s when I get upset that things turn South quickly.

Raising a spirited child is about him and even more about me. It’s how I can work on my reactions to display how I would like him to act. It’s about teaching him how to handle himself and his emotions. He has to know that life will throw him curve balls, he will be wronged, people will not listen and he has to be able to handle himself with dignity and poise.

Intensity Tips

Life is hard and his intense emotions can be great for him if he learns to reel them in when necessary and focus on the positive. It’s a daily struggle, but at the end of the day he is an amazing kid, that just needs some extra direction and support.

 

Raising a Spirited Child Series

Raising a Spirited Child Series
 Not everyone understands how hard it is to raise a child that is just more of everything. More intense, more sensitive, more loving, more persistent, more perceptive, more energetic, more distracted, and more difficult to adapt. Yes, all of those things encompass my beautiful, loving, sweet, crazy, 5 year old son.
Raising a Spirited Child
Raising a spirited child is a daily struggle, but also an eye-opener. Mister Man keeps me on my toes and makes me think about how to phrase and prepare the day. It’s a daily, moment by moment, ever-changing struggle, but I know I am getting stronger, he is getting stronger and we are making progress.
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I’d read parenting book after parenting book, trying to find the best parenting solution for our son. None of them quite fit him until I picked up Raising your Spirited Child. Within a few pages I was convinced this book was written about my son. He fit the description perfectly. It opened my eyes.
Until then, I felt like I was a bad parent and couldn’t keep my child in check. We were having tantrum after tantrum… it was never ending. At home, in public, you name it we were having issues. I could not find a solution and felt like I was failing.
It was this book that let me breathe and know I wasn’t a bad parent, I was just treating him like a normal 5 year old, and he wasn’t. He is just a bit more.
Instead of using the normal tactics for parenting, I needed to re-evaluate the way I handled situations, look for triggers and help him find ways to handle his spirit. It helped me to see that he isn’t a bad kid, the traits he portrays are all traits that are amazing in adults when they are handled properly. It wasn’t that he was acting out to fight authority, he just can’t help it, the emotions overwhelm him and he doesn’t know how to handle it. So it’s our job to help him understand what he is feeling and how he can handle those emotions.
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Yes, it’s difficult. It’s a daily struggle, but we are making progress. I have to be aware of the day to day things that may happen and then adjust my thinking to envision how he will handle the situation so I can help him succeed.
Mister Man is an amazing kid, with a heart like no other. He loves with all his might, but sometimes his emotions get the best of him. How we handle those moments are very important to his success. If he can learn to handle them himself, and he will eventually, he will be such a strong, loving, sensitive adult. But it’s up to us to help him find the solutions and the appropriate reactions and ways to handle the situation. I see so much potential in him, we just have to help him let out the love instead of the anger, let his emotions turn him on the right path rather than letting them get the best of him.
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It’s a struggle, because neither Brian or I think the same way he does, we are not overwhelmed with emotions, so we have to change our thinking and put ourselves in his position to better understand what he is going through. If we don’t, we get frustrated and angry and things go downhill quickly. Calmness, patience, love and understanding are so important in our day to day lives with Mister Man, and they are what keep him moving in the right direction. One slip and the whole day can go downhill. It’s a constant battle, but I know it will be worth it in the end.
For the next few weeks I will be highlighting those characteristics that make a child spirited, examples of situations we’ve encountered as well as tactic to help your spirited child succeed!