Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Don't Talk About Me

My three year old will turn four at the end of August and naps are hit or miss. He skips about one a week, sometimes two, and he becomes a different child when he's sleep deprived. He has always been a thinker but he really retreats when he's tired. He literally drifts as if his body has become a sheet in the wind and he fails to follow any direction you give him. This is particularly difficult when we go out in public.

We went to a family fun day at a local art center this weekend. It was a fantastic event with free art projects in every room and free hot dogs and snowcones for everyone. My three year old made a paper plate guitar, grabbed a snow cone then mentally checked out. He wandered out of my sight so many times that I had to make sure he was holding onto my shirt so that I wouldn't lose track of him. My husband and I took turns with him so that the other could interact with the other two kids. After an hour, we were done.

We buckled the kids in the car and watched as my three year old's eyelids fell heavily. My husband and I buckled our own seat belts and took a deep breath. "Man, Drew was all over the place! I can't stand to take him places when he's like that!" my husband said quietly.
"I know - He's just exhausted. We probably need to stay home when he's this tired."

We heard a small sob escape out of my son's mouth. "Don't talk about me like I'm not even here!" he said as a full out cry erupted.
My husband and I looked at each other, alarmed. We had not meant for him to hear it. We had not meant for it to hurt him.

I reached into the backseat and grabbed his little hand. "Honey, I am so sorry. You are right. We shouldn't talk about you like you are not here. We were just worried about you being tired."
"I NOT tired!" he said. "That hurt my feelings!"
I squeezed his little hand in an attempt to call him. "I'm sorry, my sweet boy."
He sniffed then squeezed back. "That okay."

It was a wake up call for me. My husband and I made a deal to only say good things about the kids when they are in ear shot. We can talk about good things they did; we can talk about things that made us proud or impressed us. We cannot openly discuss our disappointments or frustrations when they are nearby. I wouldn't do that to an adult. I certainly will not do it to my children.

How can you ensure that your words about your children are always encouraging? How can you make sure to set aside time to problem solve your parenting issues in privacy?

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