I’ve been thinking about our kids and their quirks and triggers a little more lately. In one sense it’s always on my mind because we interact with them daily, obviously, but what I mean is that I have been thinking about the little opportunities to understand our kids better as if they represent codes we can decipher.
Our daughter is not a morning person (she takes after her mother in this respect) and virtually every morning involves an argument with her at various stages of the process of getting her ready for school. As is probably the case with most parents and their kids, kids don’t respond to circumstances the way we do or would expect them to and it is easy to become frustrated with them, particularly when we are running late and like to miss that train to work.
It’s not that we don’t want to understand them, it’s more that when you have 30 minutes to feed and dress yourself and kids and still get out the door on time, your tolerance for delays is pretty low and, yet, that is exactly when every little thing involves a 10 minute debate.
I noticed that even once my daughter is out of bed and sitting at the breakfast table with a bowl of cereal in front of her that she likes (I did a lot of A/B testing to narrow down the shortlist of favorites), she has this habit of stabbing at her cereal with her spoon quite aggressively for a few minutes before dropping her spoon and sobbing. Telling her to eat her food, predictably, doesn’t work and she just becomes more frustrated (and so do I).
One morning I had an idea and asked her if she wanted more milk in her cereal. She was already sobbing and nodded so I added more milk and that seemed to resolve the situation for her because, now, she could dunk all of the chocolate balls in milk before eating them. At least, that mostly addressed her frustration. She also seems to expect the cereal not to float on the surface of the milk and doesn’t realize that if it all floats then it doesn’t all float uniformly because she hasn’t eaten any of it to spread the rest out more evenly. On the other hand, I think I at least made progress so she has fewer tearful, cereal-stabbing moments before actually eating her cereal.
This is just one of the many challenges I face in the mornings while we are rushing to get ready for school and work and most of these challenges seems to be another little code to crack and a little strategic time to spend to make future mornings a little more efficient. That said, an analytical approach rarely works with kids who tend to be pretty irrational and lateral for the most part but, then again, I don’t remember anyone telling me this whole parenting thing would be easy or boring.