Parenting is full of paradoxes. My favorite one is “Why do they need less sleep than me?” I find myself asking that question at least 4-5 times a week. A friend of mine explained it, that they sleep peacefully, whereas we sleep with 1 ear open, always ready to get up at any time. I’m sure that’s got a lot to do with it! Then there is that energy that everyone says they wish they could bottle. They aren’t kidding!
Lately, we have been very frustrated with our 3 year old son, Will. (His name is Will for a reason!) Often, if something isn’t working, a person should try something new. (They say it’s a sign of insanity to keep trying the same thing over and over, expecting different results!) I think several things are happening here. First, he has an excellent vocabulary. When you hear him talk, you would guess that he would understand a lot. Second, he is a giant compared to Sophie, who is almost a year old. She doesn’t understand much, and is learning. Also, I think it’s just human nature to expect more from the first born. Maybe it’s because you don’t have anything to compare them to when you’re going through the stages of childhood at first.
So we were talking tonight, that we should stop expecting really anything from him. We should stop trying to explain things. We need to realize that he doesn’t understand, that he is too little to understand (even though he screams “NO I BIG!!!”) and that we would probably not be as frustrated with him if we changed the way we approach things. For example, we are playing at a friend’s house and the baby needs a nap, so it’s time to go. We give a warning “In a few minutes, it’s time to leave.” A few minutes later, we tell him it’s time to go. He pitches a fit, screaming, crying, yelling in my face. I tell him “I’m sorry you don’t want to go, but we have to. Sophie needs a nap.” He continues screaming and refuses to put coat/shoes on. I say, “If you don’t let me put these on, you will get cold when we go out.” and be fully prepared to carry him to the car. He does not like being carried to the car and he definitely doesn’t want to go out without his shoes so he settles and lets me do it. Later, when he is more able to understand more abstract things, we can explain. Lots of time left for that. But for now, I think we need to make things more simple.
Lowering expectations so you don’t get mad and frustrated? I’m sure we could find paradox in that somehow!