Saturday, April 25, 2015

Learning How To Parent

Daniel is darling. He's so cuddly and cute and I could squeeze his little cheeks for days!

I've been working on keeping myself spiritually, mentally, and physically healthy so I can handle the stress of becoming a parent. I don't get the 9 months of prep and the fun times when they're a screaming baby. In two weeks, I'm going to have a kindergartener running around.

Yesterday was not a great day for Daniel. But I felt ready for it. Sort of. I had been listening to the scriptures and I heard Alma say a scripture that I remember marking while I was a missionary in Dallas.

Alma 31: 5 And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God.

This was what I was prepared with before Daniel came over. 

Antonio came to the office and asked if I could watch Daniel for a little bit while he went to visit with his daycare. I told him sure and asked what happened. Daniel pushed one kid and kicked another little girl in the head. So violent! Antonio went to find out what happened and talk with his teacher. Daniel settled in his little chair in the office and we set about writing an apology letter. 

This was not an easy task. He was hungry. He was itchy. He was guilty. 

And then a customer came in. Daniel helped me show her the unit she would choose. While we finished paperwork, I gave him two choices. He could work on his apology or he could color a Ninja Turtle. Sitting still long enough to get through the paperwork was more than he could handle. I shut his mouth with a protein bar. He was pleased. 

After helping the customers, we ran upstairs and made a snack. Salad for me. Apple and cheese and rice for Daniel. We ran back down stairs and he ate happily while I answered calls. 

After a bit, I told him to go play out in the front yard where I could watch him from the window. Antonio came home with a bag of take out and I watched him talk to Daniel. 

I ran out to see what he had discovered. Antonio empathized with Daniel's frustration. But no matter what led to the violence, violence is unacceptable. He took Daniel upstairs and the two of them finished the apology letter and Antonio explained why we wouldn't be setting up the video games. 

I smiled at how gentle Antonio was with Daniel. I finished the day off at the office and came upstairs to see a finished apology and two happy guys. 

I just couldn't figure out how to help Daniel see that his pushing and kicking had real consequences though. He isn't a bad kid--he just doesn't have the empathy to imagine how others feel. He's 6. But he needs to learn it in order to have a good social experience and in order to be a nice person. 

At about 8:30pm--he wet his pants. No reason. He wasn't playing video games. We were all just lounging around having a fun time. This has been an ongoing problem and Antonio is about at his wit's end. So I had Daniel get a towel and get it wet and rub the tiny little spot on the carpet where he had wet 100 times. It was hilariously excessive. He sat there slaving away repeating his numbers loudly. Antonio enjoyed calling him out when he missed 87 and the little boy went back and repeated 87. I sat there giggling, hoping that the suffering was enough to make him think twice next time he decided going to the bathroom wasn't a good idea.

Thinking back to the scripture I had read, I decided to experiment upon the promise. I grabbed the scriptures and we started the Book of Mormon as a family. Daniel, very reluctantly and obnoxiously, read the 1st verse. He repeated what I read in a high pitched voice and interrupted himself with fits of coughing that I realized were fake and his way of protesting. I called him on it immediately and he finished what I realize now is an incredibly long verse. We read to verse 4 where it introduces the word "repent". 

I asked Daniel what "repent" means. He didn't know. So I told him it was to apologize for doing something wrong and to promise not to do it again. We talked about what he had done wrong. We talked about his apology note and told him we were proud of him for apologizing. And then he promised not to do it again. 

I don't have any vain imaginings that this problem is over--but it was neat to see how we could immediately apply the scriptures with him and how the scriptures helped to support the lesson that we were trying to teach him. 

I'm not well read on childhood development. I don't know what a 6 year old is capable of when it comes to empathy. I don't know whether anything we're trying is making a difference. But I hope that little by little through consequences, talks, scripture reading, and lots of love we will raise a good man. 

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