“Mommy, are there timers in the Enchanted Forest?” Blue eyes looked up at me hopefully.
“No, baby. No timers.”
“Good. I hate timers.”
And there it was. How he really felt.
We made our second annual birthday trip to the Enchanted Forest this weekend to collect presents from the Birthday Fairies. (Confused? Check out this post.)
In the real world, however, he and I battle each morning about getting dressed. He lies on the floor. He stands on his head. He bites his toenails. He plays ninja pirate and terrorizes his sister. He picks his nose and eats his boogers. He picks his nose and wipes it on the wall. He screams, sobs, spits, kicks. Anything and everything to keep from getting dressed.
In desperation, I got a timer. He gets ten minutes to get dressed. If he doesn’t, he loses a toy.
I now have a closet full of toys.
So I had reached the conclusion last week that the timer thing was not working. I was planning one of those “come to Jesus meetings” because I cannot fight him like that and still end up running late for clinic.
Hearing his feelings about the timer, made my heart ache. I remembered my own father going stark raving mad because I showed up 5 minutes late in the parking lot from church. When I say stark raving mad, I mean near apoplectic. I have serious anxiety issues about time now.
I don’t want this for him.
He is just a little guy with a sweet heart and a wandering mind. He is not trying to deliberately ignore me. It just comes naturally to him. He is four. Not forty. I need to stop trying so hard to squeeze a kid into a grown up world. Maybe the world could give just a little?
So yesterday when I woke him up I whispered, “Wanna get dressed without the timer, buddy?” He nodded and smiled with his eyes still closed.
And you know what? He did it. No screaming or yelling. No ninja pirate. No timer.
This morning, same thing.
On the way out the door, he grabbed my hand. “Mommy, it makes me feel good when you brag on me.”
A reminder to not focus merely on the negative. Praise can be a powerful motivator, even more than punishment. I am not perfect. Neither is he.
And that is just fine.