that was a mistake, mom
James has been having a hard time since last Monday. He's not listening very well, is giving me little bursts of attitude (kicking over a car on his way up the stairs, etc), and just generally being a pain in the butt. I have been feeling a little like a pain in the butt myself these days so a few days ago I started a little experiment. I made a conscience effort to be extra patient and more present with him. Less time on the computer (which has been really nice, actually), more time spent playing or creating with him...stuff like that. He was still a creep. So, yay! It wasn't him playing off of my mood, it was really just him.
I tend to believe that kids take their mood cues from us a lot of the time, but not all of the time. There are lots of potential reasons for these little icky times and I now take some comfort in knowing that they do pass. It also helps that he is not 3 anymore (3 was his hardest year so far) and that I have some useful Love & Logic tools. (they need some brushing up, though) Anyways, there is a fun reason I'm recording all of this.
A couple days ago James was in his room for a door-locked quiet time. This was a consequence for something he had done and he didn't like it AT ALL. I heard him banging around in there and when I went in to get him I saw that he had pulled most of his name letters off of his wall, the letters that I lovingly painted and carefully balanced (and double side taped) to the tiny ledge of his closet trim over 3 years ago. (in the picture they are above the window but I moved them because they kept falling down) Anyways, he had knocked most of them down with the stick from the bottom of his roller shade. Nice. He asked if I would put them back up and I told him no and that there would be a consequence for doing this. I didn't know what it would be yet, but that is the beauty of this approach. You tell them not to worry about it and you'll let them know later what it will be...this gives you time to cool off and make a clear decision. He basically showed me what the consequence would be himself by asking me repeatedly to put them back up. I told him I had worked very hard on putting them up the first time and I wasn't going to do it again until I had enough energy. (another love & logic line)
He asked me yesterday if I would put them up yet and I said no. He threatened to pull more things off of his wall and I said that was his choice but he would have to live with his room like that. He said he would sneak into our room. I told him I would lock our door. He was silent. (haha)
We were driving home from Kate's today and I heard him mumbling about a mistake. "What mistake?" I asked him. "Pulling my name down was a mistake, mom. I'm sorry." ALL ON HIS OWN, he said this. I nearly burst into tears.
I'm putting them back up this afternoon.