Anger

I never learned appropriate methods of dealing with anger.  I have spent my life bottling it up until I can’t take it anymore, and then lashing out with the fury of five scorned women.  I realize that’s what I do, and I don’t like it, and I am continually searching for better ways to deal with anger. Especially in my relationship with my ever-patient Kullervo, I try on new tactics for better (taking a break to cool down and get perspective) or for worse (calling him names* and being bitterly sarcastic).

I want to do better for my kids.  I am sure that there are good strategies out there for dealing with anger, and I want to teach my kids appropriate mechanisms. Oliver has gotten to an age where he is testing boundaries and trying to assert his independence.  This results in a lot of anger, which, in my opinion at least, is totally normal and a good time to teach him good ways to deal with those feelings.  The big problem with this awesome parenting that I’m going to be doing is… I have no idea what to tell him.

I decided to get some advice.  The first person I turned to was my mother.  Sure, I don’t have good strategies for dealing with anger, but I was a stubborn child and maybe I just never learned them.  I mentioned that Oliver has started getting angry a lot about stuff, and her response was that he doesn’t get anger from our side of the family, because we aren’t angry people.

And I’ve looked in magazines and online, and it seems like nobody is talking about how to help your kids deal with anger.  I know what I’m supposed to do when my kid throws a tantrum.  I’ve read about things to do to help prevent tantrums.

Maybe nobody knows.  I mean, anger is pretty darned powerful, and nobody seems to want to admit to having it.  And it’s all well and good to prevent anger as much as possible, but the fact is, we all get angry.  Multiple times a day, even!

The things that I do now with Oliver include the following:

1. We talk about how he’s feeling, and put a name on the feeling.  (Anger, frustration, fear, feeling overwhelmed, etc)

2.  We talk about what NOT to do–we don’t hurt ourselves or other people, and we shouldn’t break anyone’s stuff, including our own, because we’ll regret it later.

3.  We talk about what to do next time.

The problem is, when I get to number 3, I wind up telling him to do things that are unrealistic when he’s angry.  I mean, how likely is it that anyone who is really mad is going to have the presence of mind to stop and ask for a pillow to punch?  Seriously.

So, I’m on a quest to find good ways to deal with anger.  We talk about talking it out and using words and stuff, but when you’re mad, you still have all these feelings and you feel like you need to lash out.  What do you do with all that energy?

Someone help me!

*In my defense, sometimes I call people funny names when I’m mad and it deflates the whole situation.  However, this is unusual.

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Today’s Oliverism/Hazeliloquy

Oliver and Hazel were arguing over a toy, and Oliver got mad, and said, “Hazel!  Go to Time Out!”

Hazel, who has never been sentenced to time out, walked dutifully over to the time out corner and sat down.

… I had to have a conversation with Oliver about how he doesn’t get to be the boss of Hazel, and certainly doesn’t get to send her to time out.  I am pretty sure Hazel was just excited to finally get some punishment around here.

Parenting Tip!

I am no god of parenting, and I screw up all the time.  But occasionally I stumble on something that magically works.  Yesterday was one of those days, and it worked again today.  I thought I’d share for the other parents out there who might struggle with the same.

Oliver is three.  He wants everything he sees.  He wants everything he’s not holding.  He has had a blue doll stroller (they were all the rage last year among the toddler set in NYC) for a year, and he and Hazel wind up fighting over it.  So, and because Hazel so rarely gets anything new (besides clothes), I got her a doll stroller.  She loves it.

Of course, that means that Oliver wants it.  He only wants hers; his is unacceptable.  Hazel only wants to play with hers too, which means that I am having the same fight, but now I’m $13 poorer and frustrated because I have two freaking doll strollers.

So, because the pink one is Hazel’s, and we generally institute a ‘you have to share, but you don’t have to share what you’re playing with rightnow or what you love most’ policy, Hazel doesn’t have to share her pink stroller.  Which leads to mega-tantrums by Oliver.  And if you know anything about our housing situation, you’ll know that that could lead to us getting evicted from our apartment.

When Oliver was throwing his tantrum, I kept my cool (woohoo!), and we talked about it.  He said that he really wanted a pink stroller.  I explained to him that we couldn’t go out and get him a pink stroller right then, but that we could start a list of the things that he wants, so that if we’re ever out and want to get him a treat, he can pick something off of the list.

So we made a special “Oliver’s Wish List”, and when he gets upset about something he wants, we add it to the list, and it seems to calm him down and I guess it makes him feel heard and understood.  Right now, his list consists of three things–a scooter, a pink stroller, and a remote controlled Thomas train (I love advertising and its effects on children *cue eye-roll*).

Interfaith Marriage

It’s not as if I hadn’t thought much about interfaith marriage before. When Kullervo began doubting the LDS church, I was still a steadfast Mormon. We were living with his parents at the time, and stayed up late many nights talking about how we would relate to each other, how we would navigate church waters, and, most importantly, what we wanted for Oliver, who at the time was only about five months old.

It has been an ongoing dialogue since then. I found my church home at Cedar Ridge Community Church, but for awhile Kullervo was pretty sure he leaned towards more traditional, liturgical types of worship. And, as it turns out… I really don’t love the liturgy. So, there was the dilemma of where to go to worship when we actually prefer different styles of worshiping. But, then we were still both considering ourselves Christian.

However, Kullervo has discovered that he is, and always has been, a pagan. And I am still a Christian.

I was reading Jack’s blog the other day, and saw that at the top was written “Interfaith Marriage”, and I realized that, officially, I am a part of one.

Honestly, I’m not sure what it will mean for us. But it seems significant to realize. We still have to figure out the best way to raise the kids so that they will be open minded, tolerant people who have minds of their own and will realize that Christianity is truuuuuuue (hahaha! just kinda kidding!). Seriously, though, it’s something that we need to consider and kind of hammer down (inasmuch as you can hammer anything about parenting down, besides windowsills) while the kids are still fairly young.

Gender Stereotypes (Sunday Oliverism)

As Oliver figures out his world, I think it’s normal for him to classify things into groups based on what he sees.

This morning at breakfast, Conner was singing a silly made up song, and ended it by asking Oliver if he wanted to go to work.

Oliver looked at him very seriously and said, “I am a boy. Girls go to work. Boys go to school.”

Oliver’s Tattoo

When Kullervo first got his tattoo done (of Odin and Sleipnir, his eight legged horse),
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Oliver would tell us every day about his tattoos. He would pretend he had one on his nose, on his arms, all over his body. Usually he said that his tattoos were of some of his favorite TV characters (specifically, The Backyardigans). Once the newness of the tattoo had faded, though, he stopped talking about it.

The other night, he was painting after Hazel went to bed and got paint on his leg.
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He told me that that was his tattoo. When I asked him what his tattoo was, he told me “Sleepsha and Sheepneer”. He was pretty proud of it.
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Then, he got more paint on him:
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These were also tattoos. One was “Ooks and his horse Sheeks”. The other remained nameless.

However, he did make me scrub them off before bed. So I think that he maybe isn’t ready for a real tattoo just yet.

Imaginary Friends Today

Oliver doesn’t have an imaginary friend (except for the “creepy little boy”, but I don’t know that they are friends).

What he does have, however, is an imaginary computer!

Oliver continually wants to watch TV on Conner’s Macbook. We occasionally let him (like, for example, on Saturday mornings when we can lock the kids in the child-proofed bedroom, can put on a Thomas DVD, and get some delicious catnapping in).

Awhile ago, I came up with the idea that Oliver could have his own computer! He told me that it’s green, and he can take it anywhere he wants. He often brings his imaginary computer to bed with him and watches his favorite shows before he falls asleep!

I love his green computer.