Monday, July 29, 2013

Mommy Nugget: Sweet and Sour

Photo taken by pjhudson
They found my last nerve. After riding it for a week, I was sure the neighbors were going to call the authorities on me. It was a field trip that saved their lives.

Half way through the drive to LA, I tuned into a game they were playing. One of their friends started it. If they waved at a car and the people inside waved back, the car was sweet. If the people in the car did not wave back, it was sour.

As we toured the Queen Mary, I watched those delightful children of mine explore with their friends. I took a step back to observe. They were really good kids: Ase was considerate of others. Zany on the constant look out to make someone laugh. Girly was at my side quietly observing everything. Each had their strengths and somehow I had lost sight of it while doing my job.

The tide needed to change. I mused on the drive home… sweet & sour.

Photo taken by xandert
Photo taken by sssh221
Next day found me digging through the recycling for glass jars. Finally, under the bathroom sink, in a dark corner, the perfect receptacles were found. The local craft supply provided white and red pebbles. I mixed them together in a large glass dish with a glass jar on each side. A family meeting was called and the rules were explained:

Sweet and Sour

Each kindness, word or obedient action receives a red pebble in the jar.

Each unkindness, word or disobedient action receives a white pebble in the other jar.

At the end of the day, the pebbles are counted:

IF there are more red than white, a sweet treat is the reward. A small bucket was filled with bits of paper with fun choices: dessert, extra TV time, an extra story, a game…

IF there were more white than red: NOTHING. Life went on as usual.

Photo taken by southernfried
Over the next few weeks, the mood of our family changed. I was forced to notice when they did ANYTHING right. The kids spoke kindly to each other. They worked together more and argued less. Our whole focus shifted to notice the good in each other instead of the negative. Ase no longer was the control freak. Zany wasn’t the science experiment gone wrong and Girly was not the informant. Harmony was achieved through listening and solving problems instead of interrogation and turf wars.

After a few weeks, the count was shifted to Fridays. The treats became a little sweeter: a movie, playing at the park, a friend over…

The game didn’t last much longer. Our behavior was changed and the pebbles lost their luster. We all liked each other and it became natural to get along. Believe me, conflicts still happened  and rules were still broken, yet they were resolved quickly and without much conflict.

Photo taken by jdurham

My perspective was forever altered. I realized it was possible to like my kids. In spite of the madness it was my point of view that mattered. Whenever I felt the grasp on that perspective slipping, the jars would come out again for only a few weeks to realign us all. 

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