Thursday, October 06, 2011

Mirror mirror

It's humbling when you realize that your three year old is a pretty good mirror of your own behavior.

Tuesday morning, I was struggling to get the boys up and dressed and out the door on time. It was 8:00, and Kevin was still sleeping. I had not asked him to get up. I had not set an alarm for him. I had not told him that I needed help.

With both boys half dressed, squealing, running in different directions, and throwing off the half dressed that I had accomplished thus far - I almost snapped.

"Kevin! Would you PLEASE get up and help me?!?!? I canNOT do this on my own this morning!" was what I almost yelled at him.

Then, I realized that this was exactly one of the behaviors I was trying to help Christopher modify. When he needs help with something, he struggles alone until he explodes into a frustrated firestorm.

I stopped myself short. I leaned over, kissed him on the cheek, and asked in my nice voice if he could get up and help me with the hooligans.

I've been battling the behavior on the wrong end. While I've been doing better about reacting negatively - I've been helping him calm down, breathe deeply, and ask in a nice voice for what he needs - what I haven't been doing is teaching (and by teaching, I mean modeling) how not to jump straight to frustration in the first place.

With me, it's a personality trait that I've been working on for years. I take everything too personally. It's a form of being self-centered, and I don't like it about myself. If I'm not getting the help I need, it's obviously because that person isn't thinking enough of me and doesn't love me enough and why aren't they putting my needs first ever in their whole life?

See the crazy? It's clearly there. I'm beating it back as best I can.

In the meantime, I have good reason to keep trying to be a better person. It's the little person who keeps turning out like me.

Christopher and I, who work together on using our nice voices, will now be working together to ask for help when we need it. We will ask nicely. We will not jump straight to frustration. And we will be happier people with a happier family.

Humbling, I tell you.