Tuesday, May 7, 2013

In the heart and head of my 5-year-old

Kinda hard for me to believe Patrick is 5... as in, he's ONLY 5?!? I have spent what seems to be my entire LIFE raising him, but he's only 5?! Unreal. Grow up already!

Of course, he does do some pretty cool things that tell me he's come a long way since conception, like write a book about snakes, but more often than not I get glimpses what's going on in that noggin' of his in what he says and how he acts just in day-to-day stuff. For instance:

The boys were playing outside and Eli got hurt. I was watching from inside as Patrick gave him a big hug to console him and said, "Eli, you're a good brother. You're not the best brother ever, but you're a pretty good brother."  Eli wiped his eyes and nodded, like, "yep, that's true."

Patrick and I often get into little tiffs, li'l battles of the wills, and I try to enforce my position with intimidation and yelling. I might be 29 with 4 kids, but I'm still pretty immature. Invariably this hurts Patrick's feelings and I realize that I was immature and I need to apologize, which I do because it's important for him to know I'm human (and immature) and can make mistakes and even big (immature) adults need to apologize when they're in the wrong. So one night at bedtime after a battle-weary evening I was apologizing (again) for making mistakes (though reassuring him he's no peach sometimes, too), and he said, "Even when you make mistakes you're still a good mommy. My heart tells me 'don't give up on her!'" It was so hard to keep a straight face! I appreciate the sentiment, but I was dying laughing on the inside.

Quite a few months ago we had some big discussions, as parent and as a family, to try to understand the meaning behind our fights. Why are we so upset at our kids when they won't share the toy car? When they won't give their siblings a bite of their ice cream? When they won't help pick up the toys, even though I know they didn't help make the mess? Why am I driven insane when they talk back with perfectly good and reasonable arguments? Shouldn't I be proud that they have such reasoning skills? So we boiled it down to two main points, which are pretty much the two guiding rules in our house now: Love and Respect. Sharing toys, ice cream, etc, and helping out even when it wasn't their mess, is a service; service shows love for their siblings; by way of showing love for their siblings they are creating peace in our home and showing love for their parents; by creating peace for their parents and fostering love in the home they are showing love for Heavenly Father and Jesus. BOOM! Just by sharing that stupid toy car they were fighting over! LOVE is at the core of resolving that fight.  Now on to respect... When I say they need to make their beds they might argue that they'll only be getting back into bed later so it's a waste of time; I can see that's a decent argument, but if I counteracted it with logic like, "it'll make you room look nice," they'd just have another argument like "nobody sees out room anyway." Why did it drive me so crazy? On the one hand I was impressed they had thought-out reasons, not just "I don't want to!" but on the other hand, just do whatever the crap I tell you to do already!  So when I boiled it down I realized the real issue is RESPECT. My decision as the adult was that beds needed to be made, so their job as the kids was to respect that decision and follow through. Arguing with me was showing disrespect, which flies in the face of one of those 10 Commandments... and following the Commandments show LOVE for Heavenly Father and Jesus again! BOOM! I CAUGHT you! Of course we're far from perfect (see the paragraph prior) but I try to remember that those two principles are what everything boils down to, and reminding my kids to show love and respect to me and each other. Now... all this was leading somewhere funny. As Patrick walked out of the bathroom after pooping he announced "Mom, the reason we're here is for love." You're totally right, buddy! But that was incredibly awkward timing for that insight.


Elsha said...

Patrick is just so awesome.

Kathy said...

You got to love that kid! I love that he comes out of the bathroom with profound insight. He is using his time wisely that kid.