Acceptance brings solutions

I have begun writing this post several times already, but the phone rang (3 times), my daughter had trouble settling to sleep, my son was up late last night and again early this am with a stuffy nose.  He was needing some TLC, so I set my writing aside, along with my frustration.  My thoughts were not coming together anyway.  I had changed directions three times.  It was if I was trying to build a post out of car parts.  Not gonna happen.

So where my writing was unsuccessful, my struggle to set aside personal frustration was fruitful.  I set it aside, but I have lots of practice.  When my oldest was experiencing lots of stress at school it would manifest itself in many ways.  For one, he had great difficulty getting to sleep at night.  This fella was already a night owl, so on a bad night he may be up till 10, 11, 12. ..  ugh!  He shares a room with his little brother, who would scream "He's in my bed!!  Make him get out!!"  or perhaps they were both feeling lively one night. . .double ugh!!  When this first began to get bad, I would "freak out" (my husband's words) "Go to sleep!! Knock it off!!  What the heck is going on up there??!!" 

I was utterly infuriated, the baby would be up in an hour (or a minute with all this noise) and I am an early to bed early to rise type, looking for a little down time before hitting the rack after a long day of household mayhem.  It took me some time, what now feels like too much time, to realize my frustration was getting us nowhere except knee deep in misery, all of us.  Once I accepted that my son was a night owl, and some nights would be long for him, our evenings became much more peaceful.  I channeled my energy toward finding ways to help him relax and settle down, instead of into blowing up.  He already had regular bathtime, bedtime and storytime each night.  So I continued massage, a practice I had started with him when he was an infant.  I tried quiet music, story cd's, lavendar scented lotion, nightlight on, nightlight off, paper for drawing, books to look at.  Most importantly though, I kept my cool.  I talked calmly and quietly, to try and sooth him to sleep like I did when he was new and tiny.  He began to sleep more easily, more often.

So with the three year old last night I rubbed her back and sang the "Railroad song" again.  For  my middle pumpkin I set aside my notebook again and walk him downstairs to the recliner, make him some tea, and tuck a soft cozy fleece around his legs and lay down on the couch nearby.  For this guy some medicines make him gag, some just don't work at all.  He argues and whines about everything when he is tired and more when he is sick.  This was one of those nights.  I just had to wait it out till he fell asleep.

These experiences raising my own children make me think of the way we educators look at other people's children at school.  We all know when they are your own you will go to any lengths to help them, usually by first understanding them.  When I recall my own classroom rotation of children, (before I had any of my own) I know there was a handful who just drove me crazy over the years.  Honestly.  And I know that if this new me were shot back through time to those days as my teacher self I would find some way to figure out what those babies (yes I call 6's and 7's babies- because in the scheme of life they are babies for sure) were communicating or trying to communicate to me through their aggravating behaviors.  Because the one thing I have learned since my own babies were born is that if the picture on the front of the box doesn't match the puzzle inside, it only matters if you are only looking at the box.

Each child is a puzzle made up of lots of pieces such as skills, challenges, likes, dislikes, and their own family norms.  When our expectations don't match the child we have two choices, solve the puzzle out of pieces we are given or sit banging our head against the box with the wrong picture.  Um, I don't know about you, but banging my head doesn't sound all that fun or useful.  Of course, taking what you are given to work with may be hard too.  It may require you to change, maybe get that picture on the box out of sight and replace it with an open mind and heart.  I find that letting go of unreasonable expectations helps me to release the frustration and embrace the child for everything he is and can do.   If I stop looking at the picture, or my dream or expectation, I can start finding the solutions the child is asking for.

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