This evening I walked into the kitchen and the magnitude of the girls' earlier fun with paper really hit me. I knew they had been cutting up paper hours eariler and I knew they made a mess, but when I really stopped to look at it was shocking. It was EVERYWHERE on the table, the floor and the worst thing is that we have carpet in the kitchen, so there was no sweeping up the million pieces that were just big enough to be too big for the vacuum. *sigh
This morning, I had woken up to a similar mess because they had done the
same thing the night before right before bed. I left it last night,
because the baby was the one who dumped a lot of it on the floor and it
was late and we were all tired. So first thing this morning, I took
care of the bulk of it, and then my 4 year old woke up and helped.
So I called both girls into the kitchen and told them that I was
frustrated at the big mess again. (I was very calm though, and
frustrated just doesn't express the same intensity of emotions for me
that it used to. Yay for growth!).
I said that I needed them to stop putting paper, especially little cut
up pieces on the floor and that we needed to find a solution. They had
no ideas, and said that they did it because they were just having so
much fun with so many pieces and that they would forget to pick it up
when it dropped. So I suggested that I would put the paper up and they
could ask me for one piece at t time from now on, so it didn't get to be
too overwhelming. They liked that idea (yay for solutions!).
My 4 year old had hurt her arm not long before that and was still
holding it and hurting. I reminded my 6 year old that her sister and I
had cleaned up the paper that morning, and I told her it was her turn.
E: I caaaannnnn'ttttt! Not all by myself.
Me: I think you can. :)
E: NNNOOOOOO!!! You have to help me!
(Keep in mind here, that I frequently help them clean up, but I wasn't tackling that paper again today).
Me: Hhhhhmmm. Which part of that paper would you say is my responsibility?
E: None of it.
Me: Which part would you say is your responsibility?
E: Not all of it, because L made a mess too.
Me: Yes, but she cleaned up your mess this morning without any complaint
and she is hurt right now. I'm sure if she can clean it up, you can
E: I'm just not like her. I'm not responsible.
Me: (Backtracking from comparing her to her sister- woops!) I didn't mean to compare you. It's ok that you are different. You are different people. What I mean is that I know you are capable of doing it. :)
E: Well, yah, I *can,* but I just don't want to.
Me: So you're saying you *won't.*
E: Right, I won't clean it up by myself. (Said very firmly)
(I shocked myself here by feeling absolutely..... nothing.
Even when I handle things perfectly well, there is a trigger inside me
that says "Don't you tell me no, I'm your mother!" which I promptly
self talk myself through. But this time, it just didn't phase me. Yay for growth again!)
Me: I trust that you'll decide to do what needs to be done. :)
And I walked away. I snuggled with L who was watching a movie and E
came and sat with us for a few minutes. After a while she said:
E: Really, I'm just not responsible enough to do it.
Me: I think you're very responsible.
E: No, I don't do anything responsible.
Me: Just this evening you ran and told me when L got hurt. That was responsible.
E: Well, ok ONE thing! But I'm not responsible with paper.
Me: You cleaned up your room last night. You are safe in the street when you go out to play.
E: Well..... yah.... AND I walk the dog! That's responsible!
Me: Yep, and you give her food and water.
E: Yah! And I take her outside and I help my sisters when they need
help and I make sure the door is closed so baby Z doesn't get out!
Me: I think you are one of the most responsible 6 year olds I've ever met.
E: I guess I am responsible! What else do I do that's responsible?
Me: Well, when I take a nap with your sisters I can trust that you will
take good care of things in the house. I know you won't get into
things you aren't supposed to or mess anything up. I know you'll be
safe and not open the door
E: Wow! Yah! I'm really responsible! (She was very excited at this point)
She went on and on listing other things and repeating the things I had said she does.
I went on about doing other things, and after a while she came to me and said:
E: I'm ready to clean up the paper now. I just don't want to be alone.
Me: I need to do the dishes. How about if we both work in the kitchen together and we can talk while we work?
So I did dishes and she cleaned up the paper.
She asked me to sing the clean up song while we worked, and she wanted
me to add verses to it about how she's so responsible.
It worked out well, but I really was ok with however it worked itself out. Obviously, I wanted it cleaned up and felt that it was her responsibility, but I didn't let my focus stay there. I didn't know if she would clean it up this evening or ever. It's a really amazing feeling just being at peace with whatever the outcome of a situation turns out to be. It feels really good to just trust that when my focus is on relationship, not "shoulds" or "have tos" or my frustrations, things tend to work themselves out when given a little time and patience. I don't always hit that sweet spot. Sometimes I get too focused on what on want or how I want it. But I find myself in that place more and more often, and it's a great place to be.
Some more thoughts a few days later:
I don't think I communicated very well to *her* that I was ok with however it turned out. When I went back and reread what I wrote I saw that I said, "I trust that you'll decide to do what needs to be done." However, at some point, I also remember thinking, "What if she NEVER picks it up? Will it stay there all day? All night? FOREVER?!............... (mentally shrugging shoulders) meh, oh well. I'm sure it will work out." I'm not sure at what point that shift in my brain happened, but it's obviously not what I communicated to her. hhhhhmmmm- something to think about for next time.