This is not a post about sewing. It’s about knowing what sets you off. This morning A., the 18 month old boy I babysit, was pushing my buttons. Luckily I have grown to realize two things. One, 18 month olds do not push your buttons on purpose. They are not trying to annoy you. They are not being ‘mean’. They just are. And secondly, knowing which ridiculous things set me off, helps me control my response. It prevents me from snapping. Most of the time. (I am not perfect!)
I really have to admit that my buttons are indeed seriously ridiculous. My biggest one is that I do not know how to share. On a visceral level sharing upsets me. I need some serious psychotherapy just for this one. The only person I do not mind sharing with, is Jason. Anyone else, even my husband, gets an instinctively dirty look when they ask me to share something.
So when A. grabs a toy out of Jason’s hands, I have the knee-jerk reaction of getting mad. I really would like to jump up, yell and scold A. “That’s Jason’s toy!” I know. Cuh-razy. This morning I gave the kids wooden clothespins to play with. A. opened and closed it a couple of times … And then pulled the two legs apart and broke it. You can imagine my dismay. I shared something with someone and that someone broke it. The little kid in me was appalled. But, knowing my buttons, I just got up and took the clothespins away.
The better reaction (I think) would be to see A.’s dismanteling of the pin as him learning about how these things are built. I should have just let him continue learning. But I’m not there yet. Nope.
Another button: control. I like things to go a certain way. As if things ever go the way you would want it with toddlers! I need for the house to be clean, the sippy cups to be on the table, the puzzle pieces to be in the puzzle, … You catch my drift? I have long ago learned to let go of a lot of my control issues. It was that or my sanity. But this does not mean I do not wince every time either kid makes a huge mess eating. Or when instead of drawing with their crayons/chalk, they start playing with them. (“I told you you NEED TO DRAW WITH THEM”, I quietly shout in my head.) Oy, the more I type this out, the crazier and unfit to take care of children I seem.
I definitely am a lot more sensitive with other kids. Jason rarely pushes my buttons. Whining will do it, though. And incessantly fighting me when changing him. (It’s not supposed to be this hard.) But realizing why I am getting upset, really helps. I am teaching myself to first breathe … And then analyze why I want to yell at that moment. After this exercise I usually find the strength to respond calmly and firmly. (“Jason, I see that you want to get up right now, but I first need to close your diaper.”) Or to just let it go. (Yes, the kids are throwing the puzzle pieces everywhere, but that’s OK.)
And yes, sometimes I still snap. That is also OK. Jason needs to know mamma is not perfect. And you know what? It helps me work on something else I suck at. Apologizing.