Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A lesson for us all

Build in a pause.

If you wish to be loved, admired and appreciated constantly, the best method is to become loving, admiring and appreciative, constantly.

Auburn Aries is back in school today. I'm grateful for it. It felt really good to get out of the house and into my Mustang this morning. It was nice to have my cup of Chai and watch the news after I took her to school with no one making demands of me. It's not that I mind the demands that come with having a child, but those demands are constant. There is no beginning and no end - it's just a continous loop of needing to be "on."

Though she was quite the trooper the last couple of days, spending four solid days together is not something I am accustomed to, especially with her sick. Though my ex-husband and I liked our dual income, he was open to my staying home with her after she was born. I made it less than two months and I went back to work. I need intelligent conversation (which you may or may not get at the office!) and adult conversation (ditto last comment in parenthesis). For me, being a working Mom kept my life in balance.

I've noticed lately that Aries is absolutely becoming a mini-me. There are those of you that would say being like me isn't a bad deal. To those of you who think that, thank you. To those of you who know my mouth and my lack of patience, you know being just like me may not be the best thing.

I use certain tones when I'm exasperated. I curse at other drivers (worse now that I have horsepower at my fingertips). I get aggrevated when I have to tell Aries to do something more than twice. My sisters and I love to people watch (which usually includes a commentary which we don't do to be mean spirited, but we do it nonetheless). You get my point.

I've noticed a lot lately that Aries has taken to mocking every one of those examples above. She has no sense of deductive reasoning when it comes to an appropriate time to express herself that way or how to tone it down.

The hard part is that as a parent you absolutely do not have the option of "do as I say, not as I do" because children live by example. It's true there is time when you will say "because I'm an adult and you aren't" and as a child she has no other option but to accept that.

But I've noticed lately (as I've not been my best self) that it doesn't take any time at all and she's in the same place I am. I found myself in the mode of reprimanding her every time she copped an attitude or spoke to me with a shitty tone in her voice or acted like I've wronged her in some way. Trust me, for a few days it seemed dialing her in was all I did.

Then it hit me like Portland storm. I was going about this the wrong way. The next time I asked her to do something and she retorted with that snippy little attitude of hers, I built in a pause instead of immediately reacting and would then say, "Aries, when I just asked you [that], I did so with a kind voice and kind words. I would appreciate it if you would do the same." There was the occassional recommendation that she think before she speak and think about how what she's going to say will sound.

I try to be a realist. I know that a person cannot always be loving, admiring and appreciative all the time. We all have our bad days. But loving someone doesn't give you a get-out-of-jail-free card when it comes to your behavior. If I want Aries to become a loving, admiring and appreciative person then I'd best be behaving that way myself.

There's an old saying, "A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in or the kind of car I drove...But the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child."

Living by those words apply to me because I have a child. I have a very important job. But if each and every one of us were a bit more loving, admiring and appreciative, think about what a better place the world would be.

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