While eating out at the local diner yesterday, my four year old’s silliness fast became annoying. One minute she’d be poking non-stop tickles at her cousin, the next she’d be noisily clinking her silverware or leaning way over out of her chair, trying to topple her booster seat. Worst of all, daddy had to take her on his lap and give her a stern lecture when she ignored his two attempts to nip these antics in the bud. Depending on your parenting style, this might not seem so terrible…but trust me, it was loud, interruptive and she would not tone it down.
She reacts to correction with tears of self-pity, sometimes saying, “Everyone doesn’t like me, I’m going to run away…” (incidentally, I have no idea where she gets this, unless she’s heard it on some movie?)
Her bad attitude will surface when I least expect it, probably once or twice a day. She can be the sweetest girl in the world–we love her to pieces–but I think, being the baby, that she has royal expectations of her place in our family…
So I’m guilty of slacking off with this third child of ours. And it seems backwards. I should be an old pro at this parenting gig. Right?
I remember how pumped I was when we discovered I was expecting our first born, scratch that and back up further, the anticipation and OCD began in the conception process! I checked out almost a dozen library books on pregnancy and infant-toddler rearing before the pregnancy test even came back positive… I would be the best mom ever. Breastfeeding, scheduling, newborn read-alouds, teaching her sign language, protecting her from television and learning Spanish words for colors and numbers while playing Candyland… Hubby and I took parenting classes for each segment of the growing years, from newborn to toddler to the formative years, etc. And so far, these two oldest girls of ours seem to be on the right course…not so our youngest!
I guess I got lazy. Maybe I didn’t give enough credit to the training we put into our older girls, thinking that, with luck, our youngest would turn out fine on half the effort. I was homeschooling the older two by the time youngest came along…so shoving aside the great training moments became a habit, and before I realized it, we had some major issues to address.
Also, I think we tend to be hardest on ourselves–there’s a ton of pressure to raise our children right and we’re so scared we’ll mess them up forever. So I’m trying to remind myself not to take myself too seriously here, just to roll up my sleeves and try to regain the lost ground.
Either later this evening or tomorrow I’m going to share some of the easy things we did differently with our older girls and the benefits we’ve seen as a result. Like night and day, the difference training made. It’s sobering to me, to realize that I’ve lost those opportunities (to teach good habits before bad ones are firmly entrenched) with my youngest just because I’ve “relaxed” my parenting style.
I know it’s not too late, it’s just going to take more perseverance on my part now and a lot of God’s grace!
My #1 Parenting Tip coming soon!