Tuesday, April 7, 2009

3 years later...

It's always the same thing as we race toward another Birthday for Devin. I start to think about thinks BD (Before Devin) & AD (After Devin).

Having Devin was life-altering in so many ways.

And it's always bittersweet to watch her steamroll into childhood...leaving babyhood in the dust.

And just how did this:


Become this?

A few Before Devin thoughts:

-How could that woman just let her baby cry in the grocery?

-Can't those people keep their kid quiet at the restaurant? I'm trying to eat!

-I will NEVER allow "princess" related crap in our house. It just perpetuates the helpless female character, who needs to be rescued & can't think for herself.

-I will NEVER bribe my child with rewards like toys and candy.

-I will be the most patient parent, ever. (My Dad had very low tolerance for messes)

-Why don't any of my friends with kids want to go out?

-What's the big deal about "staying home?" I mean, you're at home. How hard could it be?

Some AD Realitie

Although I routinely see parents do things I would not...I learned in the last 3 years (in general) it's None. Of. My. Business. I would have to witness straight up abuse to care more than a little. I did witness an infant and toddler alone in a car on a hot day for 15 minutes & called the police, but that was clearly against the law. Just the other day I saw a Dad "swat" a toddler's behind for...throwing mulch at the playground. Whatever.

-I'm relieved when I see another family in the restaurant. At least we won't be the only noisy, mess-makers.

-Princess stuff? Um. Yeah. I gave in on that one.

I still don't like it. At all.

But one principal I'm not bending on, is this: The forbidden fruit.

Matt & I both agree that forbidding something, makes it more desired. Of course, there are limits. But, we choose our battles very carefully and there's little we don't allow her to try.

So far...let me not jinx it....we're doing ok. She's extremely well-behaved in stores. She doesn't run around, touch stuff or beg for anything. We let her drink Diet Coke in a restaurant, have a Skinny Cow Ice Cream bar at night and candy at various times. This is in exchange for her natural desire to eat a plate of carrots and broccoli, edamame, grilled chicken etc...

-Bribes? We still don't bribe/reward/punish. The research in the area of rewards and punishment is so conclusive...it does not work in the long run. Honestly, I think this a big issue for our culture. Certainly, for me. We're (as a whole) so motivated by extrinsic things. Who gets the big bonus, who's got the biggest home, best car, flattest TV, quickest promotion...

This issue was part of what kept me in a job for 13 years that preyed and counted on the fact that their employees were too, motivated by rewards. I would put up with just about anything for that almighty salary and bonus. I hope Devin is motivated by something else.

It is getting tougher everyday, though. She's pushing limits and testing boundaries & I (we) struggle for patience. At 3 years old, we've never done a "time-out." To date, I'm relying on "natural consequences." When you scream at Mama, I'm done playing. When you pull Chloe's tail, she may bite. When you don't share, kids won't want to play with you. We point out the action and the consequence and ask her to make the connection.

We'll see how this progresses. I expect to be a main issue in the coming year.

-Patience. My single greatest struggle. I can't really put words to how it feels sometimes. If I were grading myself...I would get a B- right now. Devin is smart and she knows just how to test me. Sometimes I fail...and raise my voice or say something sarcastic. Sometimes I pass...take a breath and smile when she asks for a sucker for the 300th time, just before dinner.

The child is an absolute mirror and it's easy to see her mimic my "failing" times. She's already practicing her exasperated sigh. And I heard her tell her imaginary friend Gaugin, "...we're not doing this today! Stop it right now!"

-Staying at home. I think this depends on experience. As of today, nothing was as grueling as the first 3 months of Devin's life. It was tough. I didn't like it. I hope not to do it again. But, traveling around the country for 10 years was hard too. I HATED being away from home & Matt and I absolutely grew to despise airports and airline travel in general. I will never forget being stranded in the Newark airport, alone & exhausted. (For the 3rd time in as many months)

Now. It's easy street...I actually feel guilty 1/2 the time and try to sell more cab tops. But, it's fun to garden, clean, shop and care for the home.

I'm actively trying to savor each day with Devin, since everyone was right.

They do grow up too fast.

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