Thursday, 21 November 2013

1 step back = 2 steps forward

"Sometimes you have to go backwards to move forward."

How many times have I heard this in my life?
Countless times, from all directions.

How many times have I experienced it, in every aspect of life?
Countless times, in many ways.

How many times have I accepted it, and believed that going back will help me go forward?
Never. I always dig my heels and and get dragged there, kicking and screaming.

And yet, I always do manage to get that one step ahead again. However, especially those times when I dig my heels in, I make it there with broken shoes and bloodied feet.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I can look back and say "Well, I shouldn't have done that, I'm not going to make that mistake again."
Until the next time. 
That's life.

Today we went out for dinner as a family, the local Italian place had recently reopened after being remodelled and Hubby and I thought it would be a nice treat for the kids. Bear (Mr 1-and-a-half) had just had his shots today so we thought he'd enjoy a treat, while Happy-Helper (Miss 4) had been super helpful all afternoon and Cuddle-Bird (Miss 7) had had a rough day with bullies at school.

Big. Mistake.

The girls quite decisively decided what they wanted to order, and insisted on ordering it themselves. Bear happily sat in his high chair and slammed his, and my, forks on the table over and over laughing like a little lunatic. And the waiter completely ignored Hubby, opting instead to talk to my cleavage.

The entree arrived and little Bear decided he didn't want any of it after the first bite of bread. Happy-Helper wanted some cheese and olives that she picked at then kept getting out of her chair to try to offer it to Cuddle-Bird instead. Cuddle-Bird piled as much as she could on her plate and then proceeded to smoosh huge portions into her mouth with her hands. 

Hubby and I were hissing at them all to "sit down!" and  "use your manners!".

I'd just started getting to eat my plate of entree after being Bear's drink holder for around 5 mins as he sucked juice through his straw and dribbled it all down his front after each mouthful, when Happy-Helper decided she needed to announce for the whole restaurant to hear: "I'm pooping!".

To the bathroom we go! Hi ho hi ho!

Our meals we being brought out as we got back to the table. Happy-Helper took one look at the rough cut chips she had in front of her and decided Nope! (to be fair she HAD ordered chips and these were closer to potato wedges). Bear's mashed potato (that the waiter knew was for a toddler) had a thick layer of coarse ground black pepper over the top of it. And Cuddle-Bird's baby octopus was mostly olive oil and pepper covered lettuce.

I'm fairly certain Hubby's meal wasn't particularly great, even if he didn't complain at all about it. And my $33 lamb rack was little more than a couple of uncut lamb cutlets.

Bear ended up eating a few of Happy-Helper's potato-wedge-chips, Hubby scraped off the top layer of potato off the mash for Cuddle-bird to eat since she had mostly peppered lettuce while Happy-Helper tore apart the rest of her potato-wedge-chips and piled them up on her plate.

Looking at Cuddle-Bird she was staring at people around us while they ate, with an octopus hanging out of her mouth. Happy-Helper was asking for ice cream and Bear was tearing up his napkin.

Over it.

I told everyone we were leaving with a look that bore no arguments.

Packed up the family, paid the $120 bill and left. I was furious. Both at the restaurant and at the kids for their behavior.

As we got closer to the car Happy-Helper remembered the cicada shell I'd found and picked up for her on the way to dinner and happily asked if we could make it a house.

I shrugged her off with an ambiguous "maybe tomorrow" and proceeded to Mum-nag at them for their rudeness, lack of manners and not eating their food.

Strike 1.

Silence from the backseat.
"Straight to bathroom, teeth brushed and pjs on then bed!" And they knew they did the wrong thing and that I was mad.

We got home and as I walked to the front door I saw the tree out the front was covered in cicada shells.

And I forgot how mad I was at them, and I started to collect them, telling the kids to get stuff to make them a house.
They excitedly started gathering bark and sticks, Cuddle-Bird knocking Bear over headfirst into the garden in the process.

Strike 2.

We found a suitable cardboard box and set ourselves up on the floor to start building the cicada shells a house. Cuddle-Bird started to get huffy and protested that she only had two cicada shells.

As Happy-Helper and I were putting sticks through the cardboard Cuddle-Bird decided to snatch one of Happy-Helper's from her lap, crushing it and causing Happy-Helper to burst into tears.

Strike 3.

Hubby stepped in and Cuddle-Bird was not allowed to help make the house anymore.

Once we were done making it I decided to have a little sit-down chat to both girls.

Cuddle-Bird couldn't tell me WHY she had chose to act that way while we were out, or WHY she had to snatch and destroy her sister's cicada shell.

However what she DID tell me was enough for me to know why. And to forgive her and try to offer ways to help her.

And sometimes that's enough.

Going home early, without dessert didn't change her behavior, getting mad at her didn't change it, and talking to her and listening and asking her about unrelated things like her friends and school didn't change it.

But it did change how I saw it. Which is the most important lesson in this blog tonight.

All I saw was her acting out, I didn't see why, and asking her why was getting me nowhere.

But after our sit down chat, with cuddles and kisses and tickles, I think we got somewhere. My Cuddle-Bird isn't trying to be bad, she isn't trying to be mean. She's hurting and lonely.

And we made a cool house for the cicada shells.
And we made a cool house for the cicada shells.
And once I saw that, I wondered why I'd been getting mad at her all the time, when she has clearly been suffering like this for a while.
I'd just been too wrapped up in being the parent that acted on the behavior to take a step back and just TALK to my kids about what's bothering them and causing them to act that way.

I stepped backwards today as a parent.

And, in doing so, I went forward two steps in the eyes of my kids.

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