Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Overflowing with Attitude

We've been having attitude issues at la casa, recently...

I know that everyone and their brother harps on the Terrible Twos and that the teenage years are purported to be something so horrific that it doesn't bear thinking about until it arrives, but I've found myself stuck here in age-eight-and-knows-everything for quite some time now and it may just be my undoing.

I've always been proud of the direct, no-nonsense, strong-willed attitudes that The Munchkins have developed. I remind myself daily that these are the things that will carry them confidently forward into adulthood. The way they throw their shoulders back in smiling defiance will make me proud when they're stating their beliefs as young people making their way in the world...

But if I have to send The Biz to her room one more time for rolling her eyes at me...
If I have to take Mr. Man aside and lecture him one more time on how a brother protects his sisters and doesn't pick on them morning, noon and night...
If I have sit the Monkey down one more time in a kitchen chair, set the timer for four minutes, and have her recite to me the reasons why we do not whine, we do not stomp around, we do not slam doors, we do not throw our toys when we are angry...
You may well find me on the evening news for having finally lost it.

And yet, despite that everyone's attitudes have offered lately, the (both awful and) wonderful thing about children is their ability to swing from extreme mood to extreme mood within minutes. So even after we spend a morning arguing and punishing and refereeing the small coups that break out in the living room over games of Pictionary Man; Sometimes all it takes it a few deep breaths and a few slices of watermelon to bring everyone back to ground zero.

It bears mentioning again and again that we all have an amazing capacity for forgiveness. And that children, at the heart of things, want nothing more than to please us. I lose my temper. They lose theirs. But in addition to fostering strong attitudes, I've always done my best to also foster an understanding that learning how to apologize, and mean it, is just as important as any other lesson you'll learn at school or in life.

How to Apologize:
Make eye contact.
Say you're sorry.
Now say it again without a snotty tone in your voice.
Now say it without sticking your tongue out.
Say you're sorry.
Mean it.
Don't follow it up with an eye roll or a scoff or a quick spin on your heel and an attitude as if what you just did was beneath you.
A proper Apology can carry you through awkward situation.
A proper Apology can smooth over the rough edges of life.
When done well, a proper Apology can salvage friendships.

And, honestly? don't be afraid to apologize to your children.
It doesn't lose you any ground in the daily household power struggle. I find that it actually gains me a little ground. It reminds your children that you're human. You're going to make mistakes. And that if they play their cards right? Your apology just might include watermelon.


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