August 15, 2011

The "P" Word

That's "P" for "patience", by the way, and I put that right up front in order to nip any vulgar speculation in the bud. For those of you who were looking for something salacious, I'll say it again: this is a family show, people.

Patience is a dangerous thing to pray for as a parent, because even though you know you need more of it in order to be capable of dealing with childish shenanigans and remain sane, you just might get what you ask for: situations that demand plenty of it.

You may recall from my last post that Brady is going through a stage in which he has crowned himself king, emperor, and grand poobah of the known universe and usually sees no reason to willingly bend the knee to us lowly subjects, his parents. Discipline has to be carefully coordinated between my wife and I so that we know we're being consistent. Each teachable moment has to be judiciously handled so that Brady knows what he did wrong, why it was wrong, and how he can make it right. Brady is an incredibly sweet kid and has a brilliant head on his shoulders, but it's a hard head for all that and he hasn't learned to control the impulses that flow from it. Explaining the same right versus wrong concept for the 1,053rd time can be trying for us, and patience is really hard to maintain. It makes us feel like we're doing something wrong. I'll bet the majority of you parents are nodding your heads right now. You know exactly what I'm talking about.

This morning, Brady provided us with a perfect case in point. His Majesty was spending some involuntary R & R time in his royal chambers (read: a timeout in his room) and apparently decided to see if he could escape. He started by banging on the window and yelling to the neighbor whose backyard can be seen from the back of our house. Then he pried open the window and popped out the screen.

Imagine for a moment that you're the neighbor. You're minding your own business, doing a little peaceful work in your garden, keeping the weeds away from the tomatoes, when you hear pounding and yelling coming from the house behind yours. You look up to see a five-year-old little boy yelling and banging frantically on his bedroom window, and as you're watching, the little boy throws the window open and pops out the screen. Your first instinct, of course, is to assume that something is wrong. Is someone hurt? Is there a fire? Is someone being abused?  So you do what any good neighbor would do and go to check out the situation.

My saintly wife assured the neighbor that everything was fine, but was greatly embarrassed, of course. And here's where it gets tricky. Brady was probably just saying "hi" and thought he could better greet the neighbor through an open window than a closed one. He had no way to know what the neighbor would think. He probably was not trying to cause more trouble, but that's sure as heck what it felt like to us, and that on top of the original infraction that brought about the time out in the first place. This type of thing leaves us feeling extremely frustrated, ineffective, and downright mad, but how do we get our point across without punishing in anger? Turns out patience does not come naturally. It's very much a learned skill, and we're still learning.

And speaking of learning, Brady may just have to learn the hard way that he is not, in fact, the king of all existence. It might be a little sweating in the principal's office. Or paying for a broken window out of his own piggy bank. He'll get it eventually, and meanwhile, his mom and I will continue to do what we have to in order to make sure he does. We'll do our job and wait.


1 comment:

  1. You know I read these a lot and I have to say, Aaron, that I feel more prepared for parenthood. I have been the person in the store that has looked at a mother who's child is having a meltdown, and thought "please do something." I have also watched parents yell at their children and thought, "I wonder if that child is safe at home." As a matter of fact, a situation like this is probably the case. I appreciate that you shed light on it. As you know, we recently purchased a dog, and while it is nothing compared to parenthood, it is a good start. She was crying the ENTIRE way home today and I thought I was going to have to pull the car over, get out, and scream at the top of my lungs. I took her out to pee in the middle of the night and she decided to bark at the rock. I was chasing her to get her to stop, it was 3:30 in the morning, I was tired and pissed. All I can say is, I'm learning, and your humor and realistic approach help.