Noticing Moments / by Susie Lubell

Well I got through a morning without blowing up at my son so I'm patting myself on the back. It's been that bad lately. I don't know what's going on but we are not in a good way. And I have said things I wish I could take back. Which reminds me, I was at my coaching workshop the other day talking to my life coach about my need for affirmation, likely linked to a host of things but probably having a lot to do with the fact that I've gone out on my own as an artist having had no formal training. Sometimes I'm afraid someone will pull off my mask and say, see guys? She's an impostor. She can't even draw a horse. So I seek validation in the form of web statistics, i.e. who's been on my website, how are they getting there, who's reading the blog, who's on facebook etc. It's really LAME. And a waste of time and energy. So she suggested I take a noticing moment whenever this urge arises and turn the urge into a choice point. Instead of defaulting to my usual behavior, I can decided to do something else, like do a sketch or make a cup of coffee, go for a walk or eat a pita with nutella (I just threw in that last one). So I'm trying that out for my work and I think I will give it a try with my son too. At those moments of heightened stress or exhaustion, after already employing my arsenal of situational techniques, it might be in everyone's best interest to take a noticing moment and turn my urge (to strangle him) into a choice point.

It's usually during a transition period, like bed time or getting ready to go somewhere, or leaving somewhere that our needs begin to clash. I think part of it is finding ways to communicate with him that are more succinct so that our discussions are shorter and I don't reach the end of my rope. I wish we could eliminate discussions altogether. I mean I don't mind discussing the merits of an 8-ink printer with him as long as it's not while I'm trying to get him to brush his teeth.

We did have some successes yesterday (which I think made it even worse when it all blew up during the very last minutes of the day). We had a great morning playing with friends at a park nearby that has a sprinkler area so the kids ran around and then we had a picnic. It was a lot of fun. When we got home my daughter went down for her nap and I explained to my son that he also has to lie down for a short while to rest. He was not happy about this. So I let him hang around with me as I tried to make sales calls but that wasn't working so I said, listen, when you stay at home with mommy there are rules. When your sister goes down for her nap you have to rest also. You will go in my room and lay down for thirty minutes and then you can watch a video. He was having none of that. He started screaming. So I said, decide how you want to calm down! Either lie down on your bed with your kitty, play with your dollhouse or sit in the porch swing! He chose the porch swing, stayed out there for ten minutes to calm down and when he returned he was ready to lie down in my room. He slept for two hours. And he was delightful the rest of the day because he was well-rested.

But then there's always something. We can't seem to have a tantrum free day. Even this morning he started crying because he was sure that Aba was picking him up early to take him to Jonathan's birthday party (which is Saturday). I have no idea where he got this notion. I would never have said anything like that. And then he started to cry and tell me I'm wrong. But luckily I had just bought his favorite cereal so I distracted him with frosted mini-wheats. We'll see what the afternoon brings.