Monday, March 2, 2009

After Vacation: Picking it up wherever we reverted back to

After nine days of being spoiled by Grandma, today begins a week of retraining in the art of living a normal, balanced life that no longer revolves around boys who are four and two. I suppose they will get the bulk of my attention today, but it will not be about entertaining them or showering them with new toys or feeding them more sugar. Welcome to boot camp, boys. Remember life 10 days ago? It's BACK. No wonder Christopher Robin tried to talk My Hero into taking a job where Grandma works, so we could live there permanently. I don't mind all the fun they have at Grandpa and Grandma's house (they tend to spoil My Hero and I, too), but they do begin to turn into little monsters by the end, and I'm always ready to do some retraining to help them remember to obey, and think of others first, and to restore some balance to their lives. Good thing I was in bed by 8:00 last night.

I think the next habit I begin to teach should be that of truthfulness. Christopher Robin is by nature transparent, but I've noticed some shadiness creeping in a little as he realizes there are ways to word things that make us take his side rather than Peanut Butter's. Peanut Butter has from the beginning understood that certain answers bring penalties while others don't, so he'll go for the path of least punishment every time; what actually happened doesn't seem to even cross his mind. A month or two ago, after supper he got down from the table, and when I asked him if he had finished his meal he said he had. I checked his bowl, and he hadn't, so I explained to him that he needed to tell me the truth, and when he doesn't there will be consequences. I =ahem= administered the consequences, and several times after that when I would ask him if his meal was done he was careful to tell me the right answer, and even pointed out to me that he was telling me the truth. I was thrilled that he learned and understood. I expect in this training it will be a difficult to be thorough, though, since I don't always know when he's lying. Thankfully, since he's two, it often is obvious. Last night as we were unpacking I saw Peanut Butter sitting at the island with all of Christopher Robin's "Grow Capsules" (sponges packed into water soluble capsules that 'grow' into animal shapes when left in water) sitting in a cup of water. Knowing that Christopher Robin had been carefully saving the grow capsules and doing them one at a time, one or two a day, I asked Christopher Robin if he had put them all into the cup at once. He told me he hadn't, so I asked the guilty Peanut Butter if he had put all of Christopher Robin's capsules in the cup. "No, Christopher Robin did," he told me. I double checked with Christopher Robin. Nope, he only does them one at a time. He was looking darkly at Peanut Butter for using his things. I asked Peanut Butter again, and he said, "No, Daddy did it." My Hero was in the room watching us, and he just shook his head in disbelief. Welcome another opportunity to teach Peanut Butter the importance of telling the truth. I took him in the other room, made him tell me what he should have told me in the beginning, and spanked him.

In the days to come I'll be reading again what Charlotte Mason has to say about teaching the habit of truth telling, but I do know that it's one of the three most important areas to her: obedience, attention, and truthfulness.

My mom asked me last night how Peanut Butter did with tantrums on vacation. I had to think about it for a minute, but really, he didn't have any big explosions. He had a few shrieking yells at Christopher Robin, especially the last few days as the monster inside him had grown and his bedtime/naptime schedule had disintegrated, but overall I think the effort is paying off and he's learning to controll himself. I think this next week will be critical in making sure the changes are reinforced and habits reestablished.

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