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Friday, October 24, 2008

Mind-Mouth Disconnect

"Put your toys away! Right Now!"

"No. No TV. No Nodi. No Ffi-Ffi. No Krishna movie. No Hanuman movie either."

"Eat your food, Ana! Then it is quiet-time for you. "

"Do not feed stuff to Oggie! Don't put anything in his mouth when Amma is not there!"

"Hurry Up, Ana! Brush your teeth! Rinse and Spit! Amma is very tired. You need to get in bed, it is bedtime! Oggie is waiting, Ana, I need to go check on him after you get in bed... then do the dishes... Hurry Up!"

Some days!

It seems like all I do some days is bombard the little angel with sharp orders one minute and beat myself up the next for being an incorrigible monster.

Why do I get so darn irritable some days? Why can't I say the same things in a positive and calm tone that I know I am capable of?

It is unrealistic for me to expect myself to be sweet and calm all the time...
I am operating on one neuron and 4 hours of sleep for the last several days...
I have talked to her about the dangers of putting a pillow on Oggie's face several times already and she is not listening...
I don't have the patience to deal with her crankiness and tantrums now...
I can't stand the whining...

Excuses, excuses, excuses... Not strong enough reasons. Not justifiable provocations. Not a mature behavior.

No, I didn't really yell - I have just been using harsh, firm tone. I am not coping well some days... Ana is just being a 3-year old, and a fine specimen at that!

It is never OK to yell at my kids, no matter what the provocation or justification - I believe in this strongly. However, I also believe there is a distinct difference between yelling and using a firm tone in a tad bit louder voice than conversational speech for emphasis and attention.

And, I seem to use the firm, exasperated tone a lot on days that I am running on low battery.

I must be the only one being so darn un-motherly! Or, is this what mothers all over the world, in all cultures do? If they stay balanced and soft-spoken and unperturbed all the time, respecting their kids and treating them with utmost dignity and indulgence round the clock with no break, I worship them and implore them to show me how to do it.

On the flip-side: Won't I be molly-coddling Ana by trying to be in this seemingly prozac-induced state of detached composure? Shouldn't she grow up knowing it is OK to get upset at times, but, the important thing is to handle it well and know how to apologize? Shouldn't I be focusing on letting her know that sometimes I do get irritable but that doesn't mean I love her any less or that she needs to fear any consequences?
Parenting is meant to bring out the best in you and the best in your children. It does this through a series of challenges, each one inviting you to overcome personal limitations and develop increasing levels of competence, wisdom and emotional power. At the end of the journey, you are light-years away from your starting point, richer in every way. The process, never carefree or easy, stretches your heart and your strength to full capacity; you are the escort for the first phase of your children's journey. You will prepare them for life.
-- Raise Your Kids without Raising Your Voice
-----by Sarah Chana Radcliffe

I recently read this book Raise Your Kids without Raising Your Voice and felt a sense of reassurance and moral support - as if the author stole my thoughts about disciplining without anger, especially since the difficult part is to find ways for me to grow and cope well with this new responsibility as a parent.

I have always dismissed so-called parenting books as impractical and disconnected with reality - each child is different, they are not going to fall neatly under the bullet-points enumerated in parenting books, making it somehow the parent's fault or sometimes even the child's fault for not falling within the described Utopian family.

The incredibly sweet "Are you upset, Amma?", "Why are you angry, Amma?", "Are you cranky because you are tired, Amma?" when I use my drill-sergeant tone reassures me that I have done alright so far, by divine grace, of course...

And, "What are you upset about, Ana?", "Talk. When you cry I don't understand you. Just tell me what is wrong so I can help you" seems to lead to a calmer and more manageable little girl so far... touch wood.

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At 2:03 PM, Blogger B o o said...

The whining! Ah, the whining!! Today was the day for me when I realized Im being so irritable all the time to Ashu and tried to change.("tried" being the operative word here.) Today being Diwali and all. My mom when she was here told me, "Ashu is so good but she ll never be good enough for you. You expect too much from a 3 year old." Scary thought! :(

Wishing you a very happy Deepavali!

At 11:07 AM, Blogger Subhashree said...

'Why do I get so darn irritable some days? Why can't I say the same things in a positive and calm tone that I know I am capable of?'

Because you are human. And we all get into that mode when we are tired. Take care and rest enough.

At 11:27 AM, Blogger Dee said...

OMG...I have been going through a similar thought process during the last 2 weeks too. Chintu is getting closer to 3 and challenging to handle many a times. I am realising that he is just being a toddler and it's not fair to expect him to behave like a big kid.


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