My baby boy drove me bananas yesterday morning. Leo’s only one and a half but seems to be going on two or three or whatever age starts with “Terrible”. He didn’t want to put his pants on, or his bib or his boots or get his dirty bum changed. He was just in Screw You Mom! mode all morning.
And for some of the time I was cool. I put his bowl of cheerios and milk on the table out of his reach and told him “no bib no eat”. Yes, we talk like Cavemen in this house. After 4 or 5 times of coming and checking back, hunger finally got the best of him and he aquiesced. He put on bib, dug into cheerios.
When it came time to get him ready to go to the babysitters I’d run out of patience. There was the point where I was walking him to the car, yelling over my shoulder to HoneyBunny standing in the door, “I can’t get a job soon enough so someone else can fight with my kid every weekday!”
Yup, that’d be one of my finer moments in parenting. But hey, in my defense I believe that half the battle of parenting is knowing when you need a break and I was so there. If you go beyond break time, it goes seriously down hill.
Driving to the babysitters I tried to let go of my anger and frustration and find some equalibrium again. I did some deep breathing. I worked on getting some distance from it and letting the emotion go. After drop-off I felt much better.
I find that’s Challenge #1. As much as I try not to get rattled in the moment, Life Happens. Especially kids. And before you know it your buttons are pushed. So Challenge #2 is to let go of it as soon as possible so you can get on with your day without letting a little dark storm cloud over your head define your day.
I’ve also discovered there’s a Challenge #3 to this. Can I go back later to whatever rattled me and find a way to feel positively about the person? Can I reframe the experience so it’s not just left in my memory as THE HORRIBLE SUCKY THING THAT HAPPENED TO ME. Because no one needs that lodged in their head.
And I believe that snarky is ok here. I tried out a few things like – wow, Leo is such an independent little spirit, he’s going to rule the world ( if he doesn’t ruin me first). Or, wow that kid sure knows what he wants, no one’s going to push him around (except hopefully me at bathtime). And so on.
Extra points for making yourself laugh. Or even smile.
This is probably easier with a child who is the fruit of your loins then say, the boss who drives you bananas but I think it’s still worth trying. For example, wow my boss sure knows how to make a decision, he really sticks by his guns (even when it’s clearly the wrong move).
See? Don’t you feel better already? You’re creating some distance and feeling more in control of how you think about the situation.
Because as nasty as Challenge #3 is to do, finding the positive in this thing that completely rattled you is important. The fact is that person will rattle you again. Unless they’re disappearing to Vegas and changing their name to Poker Shark Pete – they will likely push your buttons again some day. They’re your own personal set of buttons. They live to be pushed.
But maybe next time the positive you came up with will help you put off being rattled a little longer. You can say, why there’s my boss being a strong decision maker again! He’s awesome! Is my evil plan becoming more clear?
So to recap:
- Try to keep your cool in the moment. Breath and count to 10 before telling idiots what you really think. It’s not really effective with bosses and toddlers anyways.
- When that completely fails, try to let go of your bad feelings about the whole thing as soon as you can. Don’t replay it in your head a million times so you can feel Right and Justified all over again. Let it goooooooo.
- When you’re calm again, try to go back and reframe the situation in some way that will allow you to see something positive, and feel even more objective about it. At the very least, use something like, wow that person can sure rattle me!
I hope this has helped someone other than me. You can feel jealous, I have the advantage of another 18 years or so of practicing these steps. Either that or hoping my son disappears to Vegas before high school. I should tell him about a royal flush just to keep my options open.