This spring I took a parenting class that challenged how I praise my kids, pushed the fact that I can't actually make another person do something but can set my own limits, encouraged me to look for the always-present logical consequences, and taught compassion and calm. Each week I left thirsty for more.
But then the class ended. And I found myself still out here in the wilderness with my three year old.
Three year olds are undoubtedly the very best people -- full of made up songs, conversations with invisible people and monsters, imagination and affection -- and the very worst people-- screaming bloody-murder on a dime, obstinate and insistent, and still prone to throwing down a full-body tantrum anywhere.
I know it's easy to think well just don't let them behave that way. That sounds reasonable, even wise and weathered, but please, come drive with me in the car when the fury-seat-kicking starts, when pulling over to sit said seat-kicker on a hot curb while traffic roars by isn't an option because we actually have to arrive some place, and give me some on-the-spot creative ideas, some logical consequences for the attitude going down because I've got nothing.
What's most sobering/shocking/troubling is that it turns out I rarely ever think of a single logical consequence on the spot.
You kick the seat again and I'll cut off your legs!
You scream for that pacifier again, and I'll flush it down the toilet!
(logical -- the screaming is waaaay too loud)
You hit your sister? -- SMACK -- we do not hit!
Oh help me.
I'd like to think this is all summer's fault, or traveling's, or the staying-in-someone-else's-house-while-on-vacation's, but I'm pretty sure I just suck at the compassionate calm and at doling out logical consequences.
Instead, as instantaneously as the three year old's tantrum, I lose my reasonable mind, watch it go, and am left with crazy-person-reactive-Bronwen who has smoke coming from her ears. Child psychology people call this all sorts of things, "flipping your lid" or moving into "the reptilian brain" -- the phenomenon that happens when the prefrontal cortex, mecca of rational thought, is bypassed by the primitive brain and we are reduced to survival reactivity.
It's pretty much the place we want never to parent from. And pretty much the place I'm conducting business from, vacation or not.
The only logical consequence I can see is taking off for Mexico or shipping the smallest one there. Any other ideas?