Thursday, April 1, 2010

Love Them Like a Rock

Earlier today, Logan was NOT happy. We had been on a homeschool outing with some other families, and we had just stopped at a restaurant to eat. He was tired, hungry, grouchy, upset that we didn't go to Friendly's, and frustrated that his DS froze up on him. He was taking it out on us. When we settled into our booth, he was rude and surly, refused to look at the menu, refused to talk to the waitress, threw a coaster at me, and was just generally unpleasant.

At that point, Ely and I had a choice. We could parent him the conventional way, using some combination of reward and/or consequence. I work in a restaurant, and so I see this form of parenting every day--threaten the kid with leaving, or with no dessert, or yell, or bribe. I've waited on many, many families sitting in stony silence because of the parents' reaction to their kids' behavior.

Or, we could love him like a rock. As my boy sat there and huffed and sulked, I had this vision of myself as a solid unshakeable rock, being buffeted by a storm. The rock isn't affected by the storm, the rock can't be hurt. The rock is simply the rock, before, during and after the storm.

We were our usual cheerful selves. We didn't ignore him, but we didn't make a big deal about his mood either. I offered to order for him if he didn't feel like talking to the waitress, and he tearfully agreed. We ordered his favorites. We suggested that he take a break from the DS if it was upsetting him so, and he threw it across the table. I calmly picked it up and put it in my purse with no comment. I pointed out that it must suck to be so miserable, and I reminded him of one of my core beliefs, that he could simply decide to be happy if he wanted to. He could let go of the bad mood.

He wasn't interested in doing any of the puzzles on the kids menu, so Ely and I started the word search by ourselves. Well, before long, he wanted to do it with us. By the time the food came, he was back to his old self. He had decided to let go of his bad mood. We jokingly asked, "Hey, what happened to that other kid that was here??" Logan answered, "He ran away to Arizona," as he happily spooned up his mac and cheese.

After dinner (which he didn't finish, by the way) he had a sundae, because we always get him dessert if he wants it, no matter what. (He didn't finish that either.)

As we left the restaurant, with Logan's bad mood all but forgotten and with our happy family feelings intact, I couldn't help but think of all the parents who would have handled that whole scenario very differently than we did. I am so grateful we discovered unschooling, which has helped me unearth my inner ROCK.


  1. Great post. It is a wonderful feeling to find that we have choices about how we respond. And each time it gets a little easier. Thanks for the reminder, and example of how it can be done.

  2. way to go, mama rock! kids love to test to see how we will react.

    friendly's. yum

  3. So refreshing to read someone handle a situation exactly as I would have done - yay you!!!

    Jules x

    (I'm going to add your blog to my sidebar so I can visit when you update, I hope that's ok. If you would prefer I didn't, please just say and I will remove it.)


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