A Lesson for All

I don’t know what it is about staying home with kids that brings out the worst in me. Maybe I didn’t child proof the house enough? Why do the kids feel the need to fight over the same toy when my toy loving husband has created a playroom to rival Ricky Stratton’s in Silver Spoons?.

I guess if I were totally honest with myself, the reason we get along better when we are out somewhere is that I don’t have all the distractions that home brings. Besides checking my phone for emails or the occasional facebook surf, I’m much more devoted and willing to play with them without the kitchen, computer, or laundry room near by.

This morning was our third morning of quarantine due to Jack’s fever. I was happily making Chipotle Lentil Burgers from my new favorite cookbook, Appetite for Reduction, while the boys made a mess of the front room. For the zillionth time I heard Ben screaming and looked up to see Jack grabbing the toy he was playing with.

Instinctively I screamed at Jack, who quickly moved under the chair to avoid the confrontation. I went back to my burgers. A second later I heard Ben say, “Where is the Spider?”

A muffled reply from under the chair said, “It’s on the bottom, Ben.”

All of a sudden I realized that Ben had been asking for the spider and Jack had been trying to turn his toy over to show him. I felt terrible.

Jack, and perhaps all kids his age, has started to want to help. He can help with the cooking, carrying in the groceries, turning out the lights, and most endearingly, soothing and solving Ben’s problems. If Ben wants the stuffed animals from his crib, Jack will run to his room, hop over the crib railing and dutifully throw the animals at Ben while Ben gleefully yells for more.

Here was a case of Jack trying to help.

I dropped the burgers and apologized to Jack. Kneeling by the chair I said, “You were trying to help Ben find the spider, weren’t you?”

I could see relief in his big, beautiful brown eyes and the weight of being misunderstood fall from his shoulders.

Then I moved over to Ben. “Jack was just trying to help you. Do you want him to show you where the spider is?”

Ben let Jack take the toy but freaked out when he showed him the spider. Maybe he was asking so he would know where not to look. Ben is super articulate for a 2 year old and simply said. “No, Jack, the spider is scary.”

After that I sat down in the chair and spent a long time observing and commenting on any behavior I saw that was good to make up for my earlier outburst. You know what? There was a lot more good behavior than bad. You just had to be willing to put all the distractions away to notice. And really, what could be more important than that?

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1 thought on “A Lesson for All

  1. I’m guilty of this. It’s hard not to assume the siblings are bickering, since it’s a daily (if not hourly) occurrence in our house. Thank you for sharing and reminding me to stop and listen before I act.

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