Thursday, July 28, 2011

Choices.

I am a firm believer that no matter what is happening around you, you always have a choice in what you do, feel, say, or think. Sometimes it is hard to see the options or even that there is a choice to be made. But it's there, if you look hard enough.

Adopting this frame of mind has given me, over the years, a much greater sense of inner peace and calm than I otherwise would have ever managed. Not that I don't completely spaz out sometimes- 'cuz, yeah, I do!- but overall, I am a "roll-with-the-punches" kinda girl. It serves me well in the very complicated life in which I find myself.

It's a strength, built of a skill-set carefully honed through 37 years of experience.

I am doing my best to convey that strength to Le Monk. She is (dare I say so) a brilliant little girl, whose ability to reason and communicate far surpasses the norm for her just-shy-of-three years.

But, oh yes, yessiree, make no mistake folks: she IS a toddler.

As you may well know, toddlers can be moody, irrational, disgruntled-postal-worker-kinda-flipping-out, with no notice, bunch. My formerly rational little Monkey is a card-carrying member.

Annnnnd, on top of that, we are in growth spurt mode.
Which means hormone shifts, bottomless pits of hunger and needing (but refusing to partake of) more sleep.

I've had to think on my feet a lot more lately than I had been. Like, this morning.

She's sort of getting the hang of potty training, and now it's becoming more the norm for her to wake up early --with a DRY diaper-- and announce she has to go potty. And then, she actually GOES, which is friggin sweet. (happily anticipating the influx of cash that not buying diapers may bring!)

Did I mention she wakes up EARLY?
Even during this growth spurt, when she really needs EXTRA sleep?

So, uh... yeah. She goes potty and that's great... then realizes how tired she is and her brain misfires all over and there are meltdowns and drama and all before 7 AM on a workday. Yowza.

This morning, the drama was that she was told by Daddy to pick up her books from all over the floor of her room. It was hazardous to walk in there because she did a "book purge" off the shelf, apparently before announcing her urgent need to potty.

The latest development in being told to do something is a knee-jerk reaction to WAIL LIKE A BANSHEE that she "neeeEEEEEeeds someone to HELLLLLlLllllllp meeeEEEEEEEeeeeee!!"

Which isn't true. She has been doing these things quite well, without help.
She just doesn't WANNA.

So there was drama, and the ever-present "No, you know how to do this, so you can do it yourself."
And then, of course the screaming. And the snot, and the foot-stomping and may I repeat, it was not yet 7 AM. Momma has had no coffee, and the brain cells are slow to respond.

Daddy was getting irritated with the whining and just kept repeating that she needs to do it-- just pick up one book at a time, stack it in a pile on top of the others, and keep going.

Monkey was NOT a fan.

On autopilot, I cruised into her room. She is mid-tantrum, with crazy bedhead now cemented to her face by tears and snot and there are seriously about 5,931,442 books scattered on the floor.

I asked her to breathe in and out (we're trying that to help with her anger) and listen. Then I told her:

"Look... you have two choices here. You can choose to do what Daddy told you-- stack your books in a pile-- or, you can go back to bed. Either way, you need to be quiet now. Your choice. Pick one."

...and I left the room.

She thought about it for a minute or so. I could tell, because there was excessive sucking back of snot and wiping of the hair from her face. She remained entrenched in the book carnage, watching out the doorway for my return.

She called me back into her room: "Momma, I haffa tell you someping."

Daddy came back in first, as he was closer.
...This was NOT met warmly.


"NO!!! MOMMA! I need to tell MOMMA my choice!!!"

Dad (somewhat miffed, and rightfully so) left the room, and I returned.
I asked if she had made her choice.

She said YES, with an emphatic nod, and then informed me she would pick up the books.

I said OK, and that it seemed like a good choice to me. Then, I left the room so there would be no repeat demand that she have help.


She absolutely BEAMED... and quietly stacked the books in a pile.


It took me a few minutes to realize that this approach had not only worked-- but given her that same sense of self-efficacy and CHOICE that made what seemed overwhelming, much less so.

I totally felt like Super-Mom.


Even more so when I realized I *STILL* had not had any coffee yet.


To me, everything involves making a choice. I looooooooooooove the concept of free will.
To quote Rush: "You can choose not to decide... you still have made a choice."

There are infinite choices facing us in every aspect of our days. Some are big, others minute.

If you can learn to see where the options lie, and choose for yourself the path you wish to take, life takes on a whole different flavor. The world can be far less scary when you know you can control what you DO, how you react, and what you think about it.

You can't always choose the sea in which you're floating, or the current beneath you, but you CAN choose which way you row.

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