I’ve known for an embarrassingly long period of time that our days would be sooo much better if I could find a way to have special time with my oldest son first thing in the morning. It’s been a challenge because my husband leaves early and I’m on my own with three boys, rushing to get them all ready for their days. Oh yeah, and I have to get myself ready as well! In addition, my boys don’t generally wake up on their own either so I always have to get them up.
A few days ago, my oldest son woke up on his own and before his brothers. I was in the shower when he barged in and yelled, “YOU DIDN’T WAKE ME UP!” I said, “Good morning!” with a big smile on my face. “YOU DIDN’T WAKE ME UP!” he accused me yet again. I said, “I’m just in the shower, and I was going to let you sleep and wake you when I was out.” “NO! LAST NIGHT! YOU DIDN’T WAKE ME UP WHEN YOU GOT HOME!” Ahhh! Now I got it. He was upset because I hadn’t woken him up, as I had promised I would, when I got home late the night before. He always asks me to wake him up when I get home, if I’m not there when he goes to sleep. Though I promise to, I generally just give him a kiss and tell him I’m home. Very rarely does he wake up. So, now I at least knew what he was talking about – yelling about, rather.
Somewhere inside me I mustered up some patience and a relaxed tone, and said, “How about we do five minutes of ST [special time] before your brothers wake up?” He stopped for a moment and then started whining and yelling at me about how you couldn’t do anything in five minutes. I repeated my offer with the same relaxed tone. He calmed down and took me up on it. I said, “If you can very quietly sneak back into your room and get yourself dressed without waking up your brothers, I’ll go get dressed as well, and I’ll meet you in the living room for five minutes of ST before your brothers wake up.” By now he was getting into it. He had a smile on his face, and he snuck into his room very quietly and got dressed without waking anyone. When we met in the living room, I set the timer for five minutes and said, “OK, let’s do special time!” and I pressed the “start” button. He immediately started yelling at me not to start yet because we hadn’t figured out what we were doing. I said calmly, “I’m sure you’ll come up with something soon.” He whined for about 30 seconds and then said, “Let’s make Topps Attack cards!” I agreed, and asked what we needed. He instructed me to bring paper and scissors and a specific kind of marker. Then told me how to cut the paper, and we each worked on a card. He did Babe Ruth, and I did Cy Young. He told me what to write and where, and he drew my picture of Cy Young because we agreed that he would do a much better job. I must admit that when we started the five minutes, it really did seem like we wouldn’t have time for anything, but in the end we had produced two baseball cards and one much more connected kid! It was fabulous!
The rest of the morning went so much more smoothly than normal. I didn’t have to ask him multiple times to brush his teeth, get his backpack, etc. He was cooperative and even kind to his brothers. Even that evening he was more easygoing and, most amazingly, said “Thank you!” to his father at least once. For him, this is HUGE. I haven’t made another morning ST work yet, but I now realize how little time it really takes, which makes the goal seem more attainable.
~ Tosha Schore, Certified Parenting by Connection Instructor
Tosha teaches a special Building Emotional Understanding class for parents of boys starting September 12th