Monday, November 17, 2014

Calm Down, Mama

Sometimes I feel like my big kids are judging me. They say things like, "Why don't you do something about him?" Him being their little brother. It's like they think I don't have it as together as I did when they were little.

They could be right, actually.

My kids' ages are 16, 14, 10, and 5 ( little man just had a birthday).  It is literally like this youngest child of ours has 5 parents rather than two.  When our first two daughters were born I was in the midst of completing my college degree in Family Studies, so I had read a million articles and books devoted to the subject of child development.  I had listened to lectures and taken enough notes to fill multiple three ring binders. In other words, I was over prepared with information and under prepared for the facts of parenting. I did not understand that reality sometimes outweighs plans, and that positive parenting can fly right out the window when you're knee deep in dirty diapers and breast milk.

Our fourth child came along and surprised everyone.

What has surprised me more than anything about this little boy of ours is that his birth seems to have had a calming effect on me. It's not that his personality is particularly laid back. Quite the opposite in fact.  I think of our little Liam as High Octane. Dude wakes up early, batteries fully charged, and falls asleep while flailing around shouting, "But I'm not tired." 

I kid you not.

Our first daughter was born to a different person, no doubt. My poor husband. I probably drove them both crazy. If she was awake I only wanted classical music playing. I was certain the television would microwave her brain or something. I'd like to blame in on hormones, but I know I had some pretty set-in-stone ideas about how children should be raised up.

Liam, on the other hand, had witnessed many parts (okay, maybe the whole thing) of the Lord of the Rings movies before his 4th birthday. Gollum was his favorite character.  Don't judge.

Not yet, anyway. There's more to come.

Our second born came into a family that was figuring out that perfect looked different for everyone. I had let go of the nothing but classical music thing, but moved on to 'nice words' and 'inside voice'.  I wanted to talk it out with my daughters, teach them the art of communication, and foster family relationships.  My goal was to be a family that .

Numero quatro figured out that if you sound like a siren all of your siblings will run away from you, and mom will run toward you.  He has also figured out that the face I make, that may or may not look like grimacing, means 'inside voice', 'please stop that', and 'be kind to your brother/sister/playmate/dog/dad/grandparent'  without me ever uttering a single syllable. I think of him as fluent in non-verbal communication.

Spencer, our third child and first son, came just when I thought I had a handle on parenting. Adding a third child means that you, as parents, are now outnumbered.  For me it meant that the only time my kids had matched socks was when I stopped at the dollar store and bought them on our way to somewhere else. One thing I did have, though, was discipline tactics. Time outs?  I'm on it. Reward charts?  Oh, yes.  Positive reinforcement? Absolutely.  Spencer was by no means a difficult child, but he certainly was strong willed, so these parental aids were implemented regularly.

I think there have been times I have completely dropped the proverbial ball with this last child of ours, though.  My husband once video recorded Liam pulling every. single. tissue. out of the box.  He thought it was the funniest, cutest thing he'd ever seen.  Liam has had my number from day one, knowing that if he held his breath til he turned blue when he was mad I would give him anything he wanted if he would just breathe.

At two when I began the count down he would ask, "What happens when you get to one?"  Stink. None of the others figured out that I didn't have a plan for when I got to the number one until they were well over the age of 5.

Lord have mercy, but when I did try and discipline him I had three kids practically climbing on my back crying about how mean I was being to him.  "He's just a baby," they would wail.  For Pete's sake, I was just trying to have him sit on a stool for three minutes.

Man, what they don't get, these big kids of mine, is that I'm not just calm, I'm tired. And a little old. :)

I don't have time to read parenting tips because I'm too busy trying to figure out what we're going to eat for dinner and who's going where, when. Plus, I've learned that that best parenting tactic is letting a kid grow up. Give them enough time, and they all do it eventually.

I guess that's what I have really learned from Liam: kids grow up.  Time is going to go by quickly if I'm enjoying it or not, so I may as well enjoy it and not stress so much about getting it just right.

It'll be gone before I know it.

1 comment:

  1. Ha, you had better get on the ball soon! Large families (six or more children) put the oldest (#1) in charge of the youngest (#4), then the second oldest (#2) in charge of the next youngest (#5), etc. That way, if anything goes wrong with #4, it is #1's fault, and so on. The first one of the older ones to complain about Liam, gains ownership. No more complaints about Liam from that one. If any of the other two complain about Liam, just say, "talk to the person in charge of Liam." If that does not work, just keep trucking the way you are! Also, its pretty obvious the music thing worked great!