The hardest part of parenting for me is remembering that it is not a straight line. We cannot just pick a course and stay on it; human nature does not work that way. Instead, we make our best choices and then do our best to stick with them. When we notice things are falling apart, it's time to regroup.
I explained this to the "bigs" yesterday. We don't always do things the way we want to. Sometimes I'm not the best parenting leader. I realized I had been yelling orders above the din rather than taking the time to meet each child's eyes and calmly tell them what I wanted them to do. I needed a "do-over."
I learned this concept from my friend Sharon some 20 years ago. When her son Marcus, then a toddler, made a poor choice, she offered him a "do-over." The do-over works like magic.
For example, yesterday Tinker was responding to me in a sassy voice and I said, "Let's have a do-over."
I repeated my request; she used a disrespectful voice again. I offered another do-over. She got the hang of it this time. She answered calmly, then spontaneously hugged me and ran off joyously to play. I don't always remember to offer the do-over and it isn't always appropriate or feasible, but it is a fantastic teaching tool.
I love the amnesty it offers. I think unconditional forgiveness teaches a lot more than a time out. I know I need forgiveness from time to time myself. Thanks, Sharon, for the lesson!