Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Momentary Lapse

I caught myself using one of my old teacher tricks on Jonathan the other night. He was listening to something on the computer and had the volume turned WAY up. I was washing dishes nearby and my ears were starting to bleed, so I said....

"The music needs to be turned down.... THANK you."

Not so bad, one thinks upon first glance.

But first of all, I said thank you before he'd turned down the music. And therein lies the remant of the old bag of tricks. I can distinctly remember the veteran teaching advice.

Set the expectation clearly.... Make the assumption that the child will obey your command... When he hears you thank him he will realize he needs to quickly catch up and earn that thank you....

Um, Puke.

Sometimes coyly termed controlled choice, it's a way of railroading a child into doing what you want. I used to do it. I used to think it was a grand method. I used to believe and do a lot of things that now make me shudder uncontrollably and my eyes roll so far back into my head they may never come back down.

I realize that along the entire spectrum of parenting this ranks somewhere between "what's so bad about that" and "quit being so anal." But for me it's a marker that there are still some nasty little remnants floating around inside that need to be purged. I'm slowly unloading the ol' baggage, trolling the inner self, sifting through the sediment that's sunk to the bottom to see if I can't rid myself of those last hangers-on of my teaching days, mainstream parenting days, and caring-more-about-what-others-think-than-what-my-child-needs days.

And even though this isolated incident didn't really seem monumental, and largely went unregistered on Jonathan's radar, I feel better for having caught myself mid-stream, re-evaluated, and changed direction.

"Sorry, bud, I just mean the music is hurting my ears - would you mind turning it down a bit?"

So simple. So much better.


diana-still-evolving said...

At the exact moment you were publishing this...
Hayden needed my help with a computer program and decided to play his keyboard while I was figgerin' it out. Graaaaattttting notes and I was all wound up! Deep Breath first, then "hey, can you wait to play until I figure this out?" Well, he couldn't! Ooooh, I could feel *it* sneaking up so I breathed again, "Bud, I can't think about what I need to do with the music, I need you to wait just a minute so I can think without distraction" OH! he stopped as I had finally given him enough information to know *why* I was asking and *why* it was important. A little nice honesty goes a long way... glad we finally get it! :)

Stephanie said...

I find it interesting that I wrote an "I am flailing" post a couple of hours ago, and then come to read these stories (Diana's too).
While I am not comparing your slip to my own complete lack of skills, I am much encouraged.

Laura - I did that the other day, not out of any teacherly skills, but out of "I need this done now and you have no choice but to comply".
It was all I had at the time.
Not proud. But there you have it.
Hopefully one day I'll be shed of these deplorable thoughtless reactions.

Laura said...

Well, it's not like this was the only moment I've had - but this time, I caught myself and understood *where* it was coming from, and was sorta surprised about it all. It's been nine years since I taught, 9 years of striving to be different and better, and out it came. Muy interesante.