Long weekend. (No need for (much) sympathy here, or instruction, or guidance. Just offering up the example of 'what we say' (both the good and the bad), for examples.)
Much of the fallout from the fox pee has been handled or addressed - we're still working out the exact resolution(s), but it is proceeding. The whole chastened thing seems to have settled in for Mr G on being somewhat more aware of the fact that (GASP!) Mom has Needs of Her Own.
Like, Mom cares about her garden - not just 'oh, how nice, some flowers' cares, but really cares. I've caught him noticing that, now - mentioning to me things he sees or notices that affect the garden, and holding his eyes on me for the response. That's now on his radar.
We've been working a bit more on the respectful communication issue, as well - just in general. Because it works. And it works for each child. Well, for each.
And I suck at it some days. Or rather, I suck at remembering to do it.
Like, oh, bath time the other night. Two girls in the tub. I look up to find Mr G glowering over my head through the open door. Thunderclouds must be hiding their heads in shame, by comparison.
Mr G: M------!
Me: What's up? (Miss M meanwhile ignores him because it's WATER, and WATER, and um, WATER! Splash splash stomp pour WATER!)
Mr G: She. Took. My. Money. And she hid it. And I can't find it all! There were... there were.. (tearing up) there were FOUR dollars and she took them, and now I can only find ... I can only find... THREE. ( holds out the three dollars, fanned, complete with a dramatic pause - obviously this is of major importance?)
Me: (responding the hyperbole in the wrong way...) So, you're missing ... a dollar?
Mr G: YES! And it is MINE and she... she took it and she hid them everywhere and now I can't ... I found THREE, but I can't ... FIND. IT.
Me: (blandly) But it's just a dollar that's missing. (not getting that it was the violation of taking-and-hiding, not the amount that matters)
Mr G: She TOOK it and she HID it. (classic example of him trying to point me in the right direction, though I'm not getting it... yay retrospect, sigh)
Me: She's three. She does that. (and because there's nothing hurts so much that it can't be made worse by guilt...) And the real problem here is that you didn't put your money where it belongs, somewhere she can't reach ...
Mr G: (interrupting, face turning purple) I KNOW THAT. Daddy already SAID that. (breath) She TOOK it, and now there's a dollar missing, and I can't find it, and I've LOOKED. She ... she ... she HID it.
Me: (dimly noticing that I'm totally blowing a great opportunity here) So you know what to do with your money now. And it's just a dollar missing, we can fix that.
Mr G: (turns and stomps off, then calls from the other room) I want you to take her OUT of the bath, and hold her and make her LOOK at me, so I can tell her ... make her tell me where she put it!
Me: Um. (gears starting to turn, finally, but still only 10% in the right direction) Wait. You want her to get angry? ( aaaand crunch go the gears, grinding right back to lecture mode) Because that's what will happen if I take her out, she'll get angry, and then she'll ... you know, when people are angry, they have a hard time hearing what you're saying. She won't pay any attention to what you say if you make her angry first. (It's painful to write that part because it's so obviously related to how Mr G was acting and feeling, and yet I completely ignored that part regarding him! AHHHH!)
Mr G: I WANT her to be angry. I want her to feel angry.
Me: (Finally getting moving in the right direction) You want her to feel as angry as you feel.
Mr G: Yes! Yes! I want her to feel angry, and hurt, and ...
Me: You want her to really know how you feel.
Mr G: Yes. (more calmly, steps back into the bathroom) I want her to feel bad for hiding my money.
Me: Hmm. So you want a solution that makes her a bit unhappy or uncomfortable. You want her to know how it feels.
Mr G: Yes. Exactly. (totally calm... pause) Like what?
Me: Well, it's just a dollar. (this time said without any emotional loading - just stated as a fact) I could have her help me with chores, and then give the money to you instead of her.
Mr G: (slight vindictive bite to his tone) I want to sit there and watch her while she works. too.
Me: You really want to be able to see a bit of your pain reflected in her life.
Mr G: Yes. (Sigh, breathing normally, color normal now, turns and leaves)
Later, he comes back just to glower at Miss M again.
Me: What's up? Oh. Still feeling angry?
Mr G: Yes. (turns and heads off again, but face has relaxed)
The rest of the evening was pretty much a mangle. Mr G was clearly feeling wounded and sensitive and in need of some tenderness, and I was pretty much 'oh, you're here for your bath, okay, I'm out of the bathroom, you wash' and he wanted me to stay and hang out while I wanted to go put away clothes, and I snapped right back into lecture mode instead of acknowledging his needs and stating my own and problem solving... and he looked crestfallen and not-at-all-mollified by the whole 'when they're 10 I won't sit with them, either' crap... because, really, is it about them, or about his need to reconnect after the fight? Topped off by me losing my temper at Mr G during his bath because I found someone had dumped his white uniform shirts on the floor AGAIN (fourth time) and he'd been walking on them without picking them up AGAIN, and I'd already TOLD him that this was a problem for me and I'd ASKED him to be careful and pay attention, and I'd REMINDED him that these shirts are to be passed down to his brother and I'd REITERATED that they needed to be in good condition to be reused and WHAT did I need to say for him to remember, and I don't UNDERSTAND why this doesn't get through, and I didn't want to see these on the floor AGAIN, and he was going to have to PICK UP EVERY ITEM ... lecture lecture berate shame guilt lecture lecture tell demand.
I think I skipped over 'what is WRONG with you? are you BLIND?' and 'you're driving me INSANE, I'm going to have to move OUT' and 'What did I do to deserve THIS?' or 'What am I, your SERVANT?' Hey, can I count it a score in the plus column that I skipped those ones? (wince)
Yeah, let me see... script from my childhood, where my messes caused disturbances in my parents' marriage (step-dad), set off issues for step-dad a lot, which set off issues for mom, which came out badly (and at the age when mom was dealing with a lot of her own work, and had minimal energy for figuring out - plus little skill in the whole 'how to teach children to clean up' world at all - I understand where the script came from, and why, and have long since forgiven it... but it utterly sucks to realize I'm passing on that pain without even seeing it go by...). So, my script, word for word, or nearly (I was terrible about dumping my clothes on the floor until, oh, well into marriage. Still not great about it, but better... funny, this method didn't work for me, yet here I am expecting it to work for someone else?). Booger.
It was one of those days that I ended up going to bed thinking 'tomorrow is another day, tomorrow is another day, tomorrow is another day, in which to try again'.
And of course, the next day started with a fight between Miss M and Miss R. But I was still working hard on remembering the stop, observe (facts only, no assessment), reflect empathetically (their feelings out loud - my feelings to myself), and let them figure it out. And hey, in about 30 seconds from me starting to do it 'right' (flubbed the start, but got back on track sooner), they went from screaming and trying to push each other off the favored object to calmly discussing how to switch turns, who had which turn first at this point (and generously offering it to each other), and how long the turn(s) should be ('three' seems to be a favorite duration - three pushes of a button in this case, though it could be three anythings), and then generously making room for each other in the transition from who was up to who was down, followed by going off to play cooperatively together, followed by asking clearly for what they needed (time with me, reading a story), followed by me feeling able to calmly state my own needs regarding getting to work, but recognizing their needs remained, and suggesting a short-term option followed by a possible alternative, both of which were happily accepted... I left for work with them all smiles and cuddles sharing the remainder of a story with our nanny. The day was easy, calm, and cooperative, with creative problem-solving and good efforts all around (per our nanny).
It works, and it works, and it magnifies the good as it goes, and it is STILL hard to remember to do it. The urge to lecture, to berate, to remind, to guilt... so powerful. And so useless, too. The data available in the lecture is valuable, in some ways. If they ask. And even then, often they ask because they need to figure it out for themselves and need the opportunity to do so... and ... lecture still leaves them no room to find out for themselves. Sigh. Crud.
Bzzzt. I think I maybe passed on Safe. Woo.
Ah, well. Tomorrow is another day. And I'll try again.