Ahh… to blog by the fire on a wintry evening, with snow on the ground outside, warm kettle on the stove, and New Orleans Christmas on the radio, instead of down in the cold, junk-filled basement. It only gets better from here I think…

We have snow! It’s so pathetic that I’ve taken pictures of the pitiful smathering of snow we have, but after the 65 degree day we had on Wednesday, I’ll take anything. Not that I’m complaining about our Indian autumn, but spring weather in December is just plain confusing for the Northern soul. And what is more fun in December than putting up decorations while rocking out to Christmas music? And hot chocolate? It just didn’t feel right before this weekend. Now we’re going full force. Yeay December!

Emerson’s new spot is right next to the fire, ears glued to the radio so that she can re-learn all the Christmas lyrics.

And we have color! After all this build up, we had a family painting day today, and the bedroom walls are finally blue! (Clay painting makes for family friendly, environmentally sound painting – and looks awesome. But are the bedroom walls too blue? It’s so hard to tell at this point, because we still don’t have the baseboard molding, windows, or doors that we want, let alone stuff on the wall. Or furniture. More waiting. And the meantime BLUE. Progress is a funny thing.

But we have our living space – the pleasure of which I can’t put into words. We are actually going to start letting people into our house! Hooray!

As for the parenting front, things with Emerson have improved dramatically over the last few days. After having over a month of the worst relationship with my child I’ve ever had, I finally realized a big part of the problem – me. I’ve done more yelling in the last month than I’ve done since I was a teenager (yelling at my own mother), and even though I knew that wasn’t who I wanted to be, and that it was just making things worse, I found myself doing it all the same. Every morning I would wake up saying “this day will be different,” and then find myself irritated with her before she even got out the door to school. The more I tired confrontational discipline with her, the worse she got, and the worse she got (I’ll spare details – think biting, scratching and flailing in public) the madder I would get until I would just let her have it.

Then all directions pointed me towards the answer.

1) My lovely husband – who thankfully spends part of his morning at work on the internet researching non-work related things – sent me a link to a blog written by a mom in Ireland. I’m just going to paste in a few (too many) or her quotes that struck a chord in me.

“This chapter talks about the differences between discipline and punishment. Punishment means to hurt by causing physical, emotional or social pain whereas discipline means to teach.”

“Punishment disconnects parent and child. It also produces anger, resentment, retaliation, fear, submission or passive aggression in the child. It produces guilt, remorse, and inconsistency of action in the parent because no one likes to see their child suffer for very long. Discipline, on the other hand, is respectful, caring, and gives attention to the relationship. Discipline does not intentionally hurt. Both sides are left feeling connected.”

“If you start out thinking you versus child in your head that you have already lost. The magical and sacred connection between a child and a caring adult is broken, and no good teaching can occur.”

“Somehow, we expect our children to accept our “no” with pleasantness and politeness, which is pretty unrealistic when we can’t even muster that as adults! The key is to stay calm after you say “no”. You are dealing with a child’s anger. You’re modeling self-control and self-discipline and that will go a long way in teaching a child to handle theirs.”

“They live in the moment without much thought of what happens before or after an action.”

“Children imitate what they see; their entire being is an eye at this point that takes everything in without a filter.”

“You have to be calm as a parent! You must be able to detach yourself enough from your emotions to address the behavior you do not want, and to focus on the behavior you want in a creative way- through song, movement, helping the child through your GENTLE physical touch. That is where they live! They don’t live in the verbal commands you direct from the kitchen while you are doing something else!”

“Parenting is saying and doing the same thing over and over with the small child. This is how they learn, and it takes time. They do not have the impulse control or logical thought when they are small to do otherwise.”

“Also, to have realistic expectations is EXTREMELY important. You may be expecting something completely out of the realm of normalcy for that age. The minute those “My child SHOULD be able to _____” starts in your head, breathe and take a step back!”

2) In a book I’m reading about child nutrition (of all things) there was this quote in the summation:

“Our family relationships are the ones that present us with the experience and lessons we need to work on extensively. Many modern families choose to break up rather than persevere in solving problems that arise. Those who succeed in creating a balanced family in this time of great social transformation acquire limitless patience and learn to work with compassionate understanding. The ultimate food for children is life with parents with these qualities.”

And further back in the book there was this – “Very often, however, the seemingly incorrigible child simply craves another kind of nurture besides a good diet – the influence of parents who live in emotional balance.”

At this point, I like to believe we live more in the top half of this. I wouldn’t label Emerson an incorrigible child overall (by any stretch of the imagination), just a four year old. And although I’ve been over the top lately, I don’t think I’d describe myself as an angry person overall. But lately we have been having a difficult time, and over the past few days I’ve just done two things differently. I’ve had realistic expectations of my four year old (isn’t that where anger stems from really – reality differing from expectations?) and I’ve modeled calmness and gentleness. And it’s been better for all of us. Is it really that easy? We’ll see…

Oh, and there’s a 3.

3) Matty and I are in an Anthroposophical study group, and our reading last month was “The Misson of Anger.” I can’t even begin to scratch the surface of that subject, but ultimately, the point of the essay was that the purpose of anger in man is to push him towards his loftier abilities, and that the point is not to try to repress anger, but to transform it into love.

If this isn’t love, I don’t know what is.

So that is where I leave off this week. Next week I am chasing the location of raw milk, and the possibility of doing a babysitting swap once a month with some friends so that Matty and I can get out sometimes without worrying about the extra expense of babysitting.


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