365: Defiance Test

April 14 – Both of my children test me. Each day, I receive at least one pop-quiz on a range of subject matter. In mid-March, two weeks prior to spring break, my daughter Issa, began administering — without notice — the first section of the advanced defiance exam. Must be she feels I have proven myself in the beginner and intermediate levels; and I need to be challenged. She has even recruited Riff to help create problems for me to solve. It is so delightful to see evidence of teamwork among siblings. Here is a sampling of the problems I found on this test so far.

1. Issa defies direction — given multiple times — to practice a classroom presentation at home.

Solution: After the third day of resistance, I decide she needs to learn from her choices; and I relent on my direction. The choice to rehearse is now at her discretion. Page 666 in that parenting survival guide said this is the answer. But, it’s not.

2. A mega meltdown results from Issa’s frustration with her disastrous classroom presentation. She is defiant and disrespectful toward her teachers.

Solution: I discuss in simple language about making choices; and reminded her she could have chosen to practice her presentation. She did not. So, now, privileges — such as playing computer games and watching television — are now being taken away. Great effort. But, this is not the answer. Try again.

3. Issa throws a rock at a friend and pushes a different friend down at recess, Tuesday. The teacher called me to report these incidents and to say Issa had also been defiant and disrespectful toward her learning center teacher. The teacher sends a note home with Issa for me to sign acknowledging the problem. Issa attempts to throw away the note to prevent me from learning what I already know. What the cuss?

Solution: The teacher and I decide to use a behavior chart to track Issa’s defiant and disrespectful behavior. Also, I had another sit-down with Issa. In addition to suspending privileges, I reviewed, in simple language, my three basic house and school rules: 1) Be respectful 2) Tell the truth 3) Use words, not violence to solve problems and to express strong emotions. I explained, she must follow these at all times. Her rewards for doing so will be lasting friendships, trust, and successful problem-solving. Additionally, she can expect reinstatement of privileges such as going to Dairy Queen, dirt-pile sledding, and attending Zhu Zhu pet meetings with her friend from next door. The “professor” is reviewing this answer and is expected to get back with me, soon.

Remember those tests in high school and college when you could make a cheat-sheet — one page — front and back — with anything and everything necessary to ace the exam? After more than eight years on this very spirited journey, I am still filling in my parental survival cheat-sheet. It is crammed full, but still doesn’t cover half of what I need to know. Plus, how I am supposed to know the answers? Some of the material being thrown at me wasn’t covered in those manuals from the OB/GYN.

365: Revelations – The Journey Continues

April 13 –  Three Recent Revelations

Upon recommendation from a close spirited journey companion, I am reading Raising Your Spirited Child, by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. The description on the front cover says it’s a guide for parents whose children are more intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent, and energetic. As I read, I gain a better understanding of my own perceptions, feelings, sensitivities, intensity, and energy; and I gain a better understanding of how to relate more successfully with my children as well as all people. Since beginning my journey, three revelations have become rather clear.

1. Daily organized chaos is preferable to the sedentary lifestyle I followed prior to motherhood. Before children, a majority of my job functions kept me in front of a computer screen or on the telephone in a dull, gray cubicle. In the fall and spring, I broke out of my cube to manage tradeshows in exciting urban centers across the country. Each of these journeys yielded a splendid mix of organized chaos, adventure and achievement, which is closer to my daily experiences with my children. Life with children is filled with the unexpected. I never know where the day is going to take us. While, I offer my children a structured environment, consistent meal and bedtimes, and regular playtime with friends, I know children will be children. Life happens. They are learning as they go; just like we all are.

2. Self-discovery is continuous and exciting. Both of my children have development delays with gross motor, fine motor, language and social skills. Looking back at my elementary school and junior high years, I struggled in a number of these areas, too. While I succeeded academically and in life, I know my early academic years would have been much easier if educators, doctors and health professionals knew then, what they know today. It fascinates me to appreciate all that is being learned about our brains and bodies; and how we can use natural therapies and remedies to live better.

3. Learning releases the inner child. My daughter is inquisitive and curious about many scientific matters. Currently, her fascination is focused on space. She is constantly asking me about the planets, solar system, galaxy, stars and more. Her eagerness to learn inspires me to learn right along with her; and encourages me to look at life unvarnished rather than through the 24/7-politically-centered-lens our global media dictates.