September 13, 2012

On Crayons, Temper Tantrums and Grace

I knew it was coming, the day when Evie would throw her first full on toddler hissy fit.

Coloring is one of Evie's favorite activities these days, but you have to watch her carefully because she is also cutting her last two teeth and crayons it seems make a great teether. In fact on Sunday she quick fast gobbled a green crayon down before I could say boo about it. The resulting poo was... interesting, to say the least.

A few nights ago Evie was sitting in her anywhere chair coloring a picture for her Nana on her art easel. I needed to pee and I knew that bringing Evie without her crayons would result in a meltdown. So I got down on my knees looked her straight in the eyes and said "Evie. Momma has to use the restroom. I'll be back in less than a minute. Do not eat your crayons while I am gone. Do you understand? Do not eat your crayons. If I come back and you are eating your crayons I am going to take them away until tomorrow. Got it?" She nodded her assent and I made it to the bathroom and back in what must have been record time.

When I returned she had a yellow crayon in her mouth with her teeth firmly clamped around it, gnawing away. I sighed on the inside because I knew this wasn't going to be pretty. But I also knew I had set the boundary and I needed to stick to it. So I took the crayons away.
The resulting fit was epic. We are talking a sliding out of the chair, back arching, leg kicking, fist pounding, big fat tears streaming, baby hollering temper tantrum.
My first reaction was to laugh a little, because really? Over crayons? Then it was annoyance, because really? Over crayons?

Then it finally clicked with me. The whole Toddlerwise tenet of don't react to your child's negative emotions with negative emotions of your own thing just made sense.

I scooped my screaming-crying-almost-eighteen-month-old-toddler up off the floor and with her legs dangling over my arms cradled her like she was still a baby. As she sobbed into my chest (over really? crayons?) I kissed her cheeks, rubbed her back and told her that I loved her very very much, but she couldn't have the crayons back. She broke the rules and didn't obey Momma. We could play with any of her other toys, sing or even watch Go, Diego, Go! but the crayons were off limits until tomorrow. Eventually she calmed down and she happily chose to sing and dance with Diego.

I stood back and I was proud of myself. And I think it's a good thing as mothers to be proud of ourselves for the job we are doing raising a new generation. And not just in the moments when we create the Pinterest perfect crafting activity that is cute, photographable and educational, but in the moments at the end of the day. The moments when the floors are dirty, the dishes need washing, the dogs are barking and it would be a completely acceptable reaction to pull your hair out and run barefoot down the street until the neighbors called someone to take you to the looney bin. Those moments when we choose to show grace are worth being proud over, worth celebrating. At least for me, because God knows I've had more than enough less than graceful moments in motherhood.

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