Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lunatic DNA

I admit I’m a bit of an addict when it comes to taking pictures, especially pictures of my kids. And I know I’m not alone. I’ve seen the dozens hundreds of pictures you post on Facebook, too.  We love our kids and we want to show them to the world.

Well, before the days of Facebook and even before the glorious days of digital cameras, I took my kids to JC Penney or the Picture People to have their pictures taken. Now that was always a big occasion, marking a major milestone in their lives—3 months old, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, 18 months, and then I promise I slowed down to yearly pictures. Well, maybe. Anyway, these pictures were SUPER important to me as I liked to see my kids’ growth and remember how cute they were at all their stages of life.

[Insert my shameless promotion of my cute kids at various stages.]


To say picture day was all fun would be like saying a trip to the dentist is a joyous event. It was stressful, as in everyone needed to look just right—hair in place, clothes neatly pressed, etc. Yes, I captured the everyday look of my kids, too—including faces covered in butt cream (yes, I can prove it, if you want), and still in pjs at 4 pm—but these were the special pictures, the ones we would hang on the wall.

So the day arrived for the kids’ pictures to be taken. Graham had just turned 4 and Reeve was 18 months old. My little Hannah was only 6 weeks old, so she was mainly along for the ride, although she did make her debut.

The morning started as any morning would with cereal and Dora. Then I proceeded to get the kids ready, with Graham leading the way.  After gelling up his adorable red, curly hair and putting him in his picture-perfect outfit, I did quite possibly the stupidest thing I could have done. I sent him outside to play with these words:  Don’t get dirty.

I know. I know. Famous last words to a four year old boy. I’m going to blame my insanity on being a sleep-deprived, post-partum mama. 

I proceeded to dress the other two only to see Graham walk back into the house a few minutes later---with RED GEORGIA CLAY PLASTERED ON HIS SHIRT.

My response was…well, let’s just say it was on par with a two year old. Not only was I screaming at him, but I was jumping up and down to really drive home my point. I had clearly communicated he was not to get dirty. What was wrong with him?

Never mind the fact that I, myself, had sent the boy outside .

Now let me ask you something:  When I was doing my little crazy, screaming dance, which of the following do you think was going through Graham’s head—

1.       Oh man! I really should have obeyed my mom. What was I thinking?
2.       Oh man! I have half the DNA of this lunatic woman!

Yeah. More than likely he was focused on my behavior and not his own. And that’s what happens when we do not remain calm but we lose all control. We prohibit our kids from learning from their own behavior. We invite them to focus on us and not themselves. But when we calm ourselves down, we free our kids to focus on themselves and take responsibility for their own behavior.

And isn’t that what we want? Don’t we want them to learn from their mistakes? To evaluate their own behavior? To learn to self-regulate rather than always depending on us for feedback about their behavior? 

Speaking of self-regulating…sometimes we, the parents, need to be reminded to control our own behavior rather than allowing ourselves to be so focused on our kids’ behavior.  We need to evaluate whether or not we are acting like an adult or a two year old.

And sometimes we realize that we’ve overreacted. Note the picture. Do you see the red Georgia clay? Yeah, me neither. That’s because the clay is on the shirt UNDERNEATH the vest.

And sadly, this lunatic mom knew all along the red clay would not be seen. Ah, the beauty of learning to grow up!

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