Today I had the experience that every parent dreads. I have been fortunate enough that in my 6.5 years of being a mom, I have never had to face this up until now and today, we were the ones carrying a screaming child out of a store. Yes, my son threw a fit in the parking lot. Luckily he waited until we got outside to really let it rip but non the less, we were “those parents” today.
Let me back up a bit. For the past month or so we have been going to the Spiritual Living Center of Atlanta. I call it church but that’s just because saying “we’re going to the Spiritual Living Center” is long and I’m lazy. They do have services on Sunday morning and there is singing but the message is different but I digress… This morning, my son didn’t want to go which was odd because he has been having a lot of fun. Last week he even won a prize! So I was guessing that he just didn’t want to get out of bed. He has done this before and when I insist, he is usually fine. I say he can just sleep in the car. This morning was a no go though. Looking back I think it was because my partner was home and we were not 100% on the same page. She wanted to go but in frustration said she would stay home so after much ado, the 2 of they stayed home.
While I was gone I had a chance to step away from the situation and realize there was something behind his request. Maybe he wanted to connect with my partner, maybe he really was tired or maybe he is trying to assert his independence a little more. Or maybe a combination of all of the above. So when I got home, we talked and I thought everything was good. Part of him not going with us was no tv time today and no “extras” today. We were all hungry after that so we went out to lunch then decided to go to the store. I wanted to pick up a few things but nothing major. Usually when we go to the store, my partner buys the kids something (which is a topic for another day) but today again was a no go.
First came the pouts and the the big bottom lip. We talked and I gave him options but there seemed to be no room for compromise in his mind so . . . we left. As we were walking out he was lagging behind so as we crossed the street, my partner grabbed his hand and that is where the fit came. In the car it just went on. There was no yelling but hurt hearts. I told him that usually when something like this happens its because someone is hungry or tired so when we get home, he needed to go take a time out in his room. Also because I knew I was loosing my patience and I didn’t want to say something I didn’t mean. Within 10 of him being in his room, he was asleep.
So what do all of this mean? What is MY lesson here? For me it means that sometimes you just need to go back to the basics. When they are babies it seems like we have a check list when they are crying: hungry? tired? wet diaper? gas? cold/hot? lonely? but as they get a little older, I know I have forgotten my “list”. This morning in my rush to get out of the house, I threatened to call Santa. It wasn’t fair and later I apologized to him for that remark but tonight, I ask myself how different the day would have been if I would have gone back to the basics this morning. How different could that interaction been if my primary intent was connection?
I think this is a great lesson that can be applied is all areas of life. We all have a few basic needs and when they don’t get met, we kind of FREAK OUT just a little. So when some conflict comes up, try asking yourself to go back to the basics. Are my needs for food, shelter, sleep, security and connection being met? and are the other persons need for food, shelter, sleep, security and connection being met? My guess is that 99% of the time the answer is no and that when we address these basic needs, the conflict will resolve itself.
I recently watched and amazing TED talk by a high school math teacher (Dan Meyer). It is so worth the 20 minuets and one of the things I got was that finding the answer is not all there is. The empowering part of the journey is learning what questions to ask to get to that answer.
Enjoy your journey!