Happy Belated Canadian Thanksgiving! I’m sitting here in our newly designed office feeling thankful for everything in my life. I had an unexpected and at first unwelcomed day off yesterday, but it turned out to be so very wonderful. I was able to catch up on all the cleaning and laundry that got left to the wayside as I enthusiastically finished the office this weekend. I do a lot of reflecting while I clean because I do the majority of it while Ezekiel is sleeping and I try to keep the house as quiet as possible so it leaves me to my thoughts. Today I was reflecting on something my husband said to me yesterday and the concept of things being caught not taught.
Before you continue on let me just put a bit of a disclaimer at the beginning. I’m going to talk about how we parent and what we value as we raise Ezekiel. While I think this is the best for us and I wouldn’t really write about it unless I thought you could glean something from it as well, I also recognize and celebrate the fact that parenting is as unique as each person involved (children included). You are you, and your children are your children each with their own personalities, quirks and needs and in the end the best expert in that is you.
I’ve been working most Sunday’s for quite a while now and every Sunday I call Carlos on my break to see how things are going. Inevitably I get a response to the effect of “Ezekiel won’t let me do anything.” To me this translates as, “I’m trying to do homework, I’m trying to watch soccer, I’m trying to check my e-mail, I’m trying to……” Carlos has been endlessly frustrated with the fact that Ezekiel is obsessed with computers and phones – if he sees it he wants it even though he knows it’s not allowed. Carlos up until this point has been unable to understand why – despite my continued attempts to tell him that Ezekiel just wants to do what he sees daddy doing.
Sunday night when I came home Carlos was telling me about their day and of course the same ramble about how much he didn’t get done was happening and then he said, “you know, I think it’s our fault.” To that I responded, “what’s our fault?” and he says, “that Ezekiel always wants the computer, we should put them away when he’s awake and just play on the floor with him.”
DING DING DING
He gets it!
Yesterday as I was cleaning I was reflecting on this revelation my husband had and was reminded of a phrase I came across not to long ago – things are caught not taught. I began to file through all the ways we interact with Ezekiel and I started to see how very true that statement is for us. Ezekiel really does just want to be next to us at all times, doing whatever we are doing. He loves to clean with me, do dishes with me, cook with me, garden with me, do laundry with me etc. He is definitely my little side kick, and with every action I see his little brain going a mile a minute watching my every move and usually he picks up one little thing each time he’s with me, whether that be putting things from the washer to the dryer, or putting away the cutlery. He sees and he takes in far more than I could even comprehend.
Yesterday I began to wonder if the way that Ezekiel responds to frustration and being upset has something to do with the way we respond to our own frustrations and the way we respond to his frustration. I’m really conscientious of how I handle Ezekiel’s frustration and this comes from my own observations of friends and people I’ve watched parent their children. I try my best to catch his frustration at the very beginning and I get down to his level and talk it out with him and I started doing this before he probably could even understand. I try to be as persistent and consistent as possible – right from when he could move and get into things I would be right there with him directing him in what was OK to touch and play with and what was not ok. I never respond to his frustration or anger with my own frustration or anger (a lot of the time this takes a GREAT deal of self discipline and lots of deep breaths). This is not to say that my child does not have outbursts or bad days – there are plenty of those, but they last very short amounts of time and he’s always able to redirect himself. I do recognize that part of the equation is his personality and demeanor – he’s a pretty chill kid, but I hope that as he grows and as I try my best to be aware of my own actions that he catches the things that are not just actions.
I hope he catches love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.
The concept of being caught not taught puts a whole new level of responsibility on parents that I am willing to accept.