Monday, June 13, 2011

Good advice from a Frenchman

I keep telling Matthew, during those times when he gets frustrated and hits himself and makes that squeaky noise (that I secretly think is adorable, although it is an inappropriate coping mechanism), that he needs to be patient, take a deep breath, and count to three. And then he counts to three, hits himself some more, and says, "Aunty, it didn't work!"

Nevertheless, I persist in calmly telling him to be patient and not freak out over teensy things. And then today, I was folding laundry and Matthew was playing with some Pilates circle in my room. And by playing, I mean 'slamming against the floor or flinging against my bed, repeatedly, until I wanted to gouge my ear drums out of my head.'

And I had that odd sensation where you can feel your blood pressure rising. And I felt with every irrationally angsty fiber of my being like hitting myself and making angry squeaky noises, or something self-indulgent and useless of the sort. And I realized that, although I am one of many people who try to teach him good coping mechanisms, I am not sure that mine are any better.

I wonder sometimes if I expect more of a child than I do of myself. I am an involved Aunty in my own family circle, and I deal often with normally lovable and adorable well behaved children who sometimes are exhausted and angry and frustrated and unreasonable. And I tell them things like,
"You need to be patient. Getting angry won't help anything."
" I know you want to dig up worms but you have to come inside and take a nap instead."
- and the ever-annoying-
"Because I said so. Mind me."
I am (supposedly) an adult (ish). I graduated from the ranks of the babysat long ago, but I still feel all these emotions, and sometimes I wonder if I would do as well as they do if I had someone telling me what to do. Wasn't I supposed to learn some control and emotional maturity as a child? Isn't that what we are trying to teach them? I guess all I am trying to say is that sometimes I think I am too hard on the wee ones often left in my care, and not hard enough on myself. Like today when I was taking a post-church nap. My sweet mother gently woke me and told me that dinner would be ready and would I come help set the table? I said sure, and then didn't get out of bed for another five or ten minutes. How often do I tell a kid that they need to "mind now, now ten minutes from now"?

The answer is pretty dang often.

I don't really know what my point is except that I think maybe I need to practice what I preach a little more and have reasonable expectations a little more, especially when I am responsible for a child who is depending on me to love them and put their interests in line ahead of my own.

We are all aware, I hope, of my deep and abiding love for Victor Hugo. To quote this literary giant,
"The little people must be sacred to the big ones, and it is from the rights of the weak that the duty of the strong is comprised."

My little people, although they aren't really mine so much as borrowed from my siblings, are my favorite people, hands down and  no reservations. They are sacred to me. But still, I am not a perfect example of this. Sometimes I feel ashamed and selfish for small instances when I put my own agenda above their comfort. But I can keep practicing, and eventually I will have little ones of my own and they will be sacred as well. And maybe someday, all the little people will be sacred to the big ones. It's a goal worthy of some good effort.

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