Today I came to the conclusion that we have amassed too many rules in our house, and it’s to the point where there are just too many ways in which Hazel can “mess up” by breaking a rule. It’s not helping. She and I get into a cycle sometimes in which I get irritated that she’s not listening, and then I overreact, and then she doesn’t listen any better, and I get more irritated, etc etc, ad nauseam. I know this is my issue, not hers. I am the responsible party here. So, in thinking about it, I decided that because too many rules, applied rigidly, constitute a recipe for unhappiness, one solution is to have a lot fewer rules, but a couple of higher-level ones clearly articulated. The result is an idea which Ted and I want to try. And that is, when Hazel asks to do X, Y, or Z, we want to answer that she can, with the provision that we build in time to clean up. So that if Hazel wants to finger paint we can say, “Yes. How much time do you think it will take to clean up?” And we can have a conversation about that, agree on the time, and then go ahead with the activity.
We have been in the habit of saying, “No,” too often, just from fear of a possible negative consequence. And so, instead of dealing with what is actually occurring in real-time (thereby teaching Hazel about problem solving) we are reacting to something ephemeral in our minds before it’s even had a chance to happen (thereby restricting Hazel and modeling fear-based behavior). As soon as I figured out the new guideline I relaxed, felt happier. The restricted way of living doesn’t feel good to me either.
I went to the gym today, yay! Exercise really does help me with mood, with sleep, with general well-being. I am so glad to be getting back to it.
And lessons went well, too. Funny thing, a student of mine went to the Symphony this last week, and got into conversation with someone sitting next to his grandfather. It came out that he was taking cello lessons, and she asked from whom. And what do you know, she’s someone I knew in middle school, whom I haven’t seen in decades. It’s a small world!
I got home for the bedtime routine tonight. When the kids got to the top of the stairs, Emily started crawling toward the laundry room, and Joanna followed her. She made it through two rooms crawling with the desired opposite hand/leg motion. It was so exciting! So it seems that if we encourage Emily to crawl more, Joanna will too. Joanna giggled all the way to the bedroom. It was awesome.