Hands

A lot of people that I know love baby feet.  And what’s not to love?  They’re small, squishy, and don’t have all the ugly callouses from, you know, walking that the rest of us do.  They make adorable footprints and have little chubby toes that might just make delicious snacks for the cannibal-minded.

Now, I have nothing against baby feet.  I think they’re cute.  But they are not my baby-nip of choice.  For me, there is something magical about hands.

A baby’s hands are so expressive.  When Oliver was a baby, I used to just watch him open and close his little fists.  They communicate needs–through gripping so tightly that they can actually carry their own body weight, they communicate feelings–when Hazel gets mad she balls up her hands as a way of expressing her rage.

These days, though, I still fall in love with my kids by watching and experiencing what they do with their hands.  Watching Oliver’s little boy fingers, with nails too long because he won’t let me cut them, and chipped green nail polish from the last time we all had to paint our nails our favorite colors, watching him grip a pencil as he furrows his brow and concentrates on putting pencil to paper and practices writing–I fall in love.  I love that this is my little kid, and he’s getting old enough to be able to write and to be able to do, and to be excited to learn. And I love that he thinks that writing is fun, because it’s something that is inherent to who I am.

Today, we were walking home from somewhere or other, and Oliver was riding in the stroller and Hazel was walking.  I have a hard and fast rule that across the major streets, Hazel has to hold my hand (not just the stroller), because she’s a fickle pickle and will just run off if something strikes her fancy.  And obviously that’s not okay in the middle of the road.

As we got closer to the main intersection we had to cross, Hazel reached her hand out to me and wrapped her fingers up in mine.  Her soft skin was warm, and I could feel each of her little fingers inside of mine.  She gave me her hand to hold willingly, because she trusts me.  She has faith that I will keep her safe.  And it made me so glad to be her mommy, and want to remember that moment forever.

To add to that, tonight when I tucked Hazel in, she reached her arms up and encircled my neck and pulled my face close to hers.  She tangled her fingers up in my hair and said, “I love you forever.”

I love those kids so much that it makes me cry when I think about it too hard.  I have to break it down into more manageable bits–like individual body parts–to even think about communicating those feelings into anything other than a blubbery mess on paper-mache.  And so I can’t wait to see where life takes these two little humans I get to have in my life, and to watch their hands grow and develop and help form them into whatever they become.

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Time Out for Oliver

I feel like there’s something LDS related to Time Out (Time Out for Women?  Time Out for Love?), which I have no idea what it is, but the title stuck, and that’s why I titled this post what I did.  (Oh, and it’s about time outs, too.)

So, time out.  I mentioned here that the way that I do time out is different than it used to be.  Most books and magazines that I’ve read recommend giving time out for a minute per year of age.  I’ve also heard theories of letting your kid be in time out until they’re ready to get out and behave.  I don’t really do either of those.

I’m going to illustrate the way that I do time out with a couple of typical examples in our home.

1.  Oliver gets angry that Hazel is playing with one of his toys.  He snatches it from her, and then hits her.  Hitting is one of those ‘don’t pass go’ cards straight to time out.  He usually gets really upset about having to go to time out, and I often have to carry him over there.  He sits in the designated time out spot by the door, facing the wall, and I usually st behind him and hold him while he’s crying and carrying on.  I try not to talk to him until he’s managed to calm down a bit, and if I do talk to him, it’s usually to say  (or whisper) that we’ll talk when he’s calmed down.  (Aside: Sometimes he’ll shriek that he IS CALMED DOWN, and I have a hard time not laughing.)  When he stops freaking out about being in time out, we talk about why he’s there.  I ask him why he got sent to time out, and he’ll tell me that he hit Hazel.  Sometimes he tries to interject with, “I hit Hazel, but…” and I interrupt him and tell him that there aren’t any buts because we don’t hit.  And we talk about why we don’t hit–that it hurts people, that we don’t want to hurt people, that he loves Hazel, even when he’s angry with her, and that she is smaller than him, so hitting her isn’t fair, and that there are better ways of dealing with a problem than hitting.  If I still have his attention, I try to talk to him about what he could do instead.  Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t.

2.  I ask Oliver to please get his shoes so we can go outside, and he yells at me, “No!  YOU do it!”.  Now, my problem here isn’t that he didn’t obey me, but the way that he told me.  If he had asked me politely, and I wasn’t doing something else, I wouldn’t really have a problem with doing it.  But I won’t let me three year old boss me around.  Then we’re stuck in a battle of wills where he’s said he won’t do it, and I won’t back down because that wold be a parenting nightmare.  So, we often wind up with a statement of, “Oliver, if you don’t get your shoes by the time I count to five, you’re going to go to time out.”  I don’t love putting him in time out for this, but I’m not sure what else to do when it’s a stand off.  So, I wind up having to carry him to time out if he doesn’t do it.  Again, I sit with him, and when he’s ready, we talk about why he’s in time out, and what he could have done instead–he could have politely asked.  Or he could have said, “Mommy, I’m in the middle of putting my cars in my bookbag; can I do it when I’ve finished?”  Here, it’s a matter of learning how to speak to each other respectfully, so we talk about why we don’t talk to each other that way.

It sounds kind of touchy feely, I guess, but maybe that’s okay.  Mostly, we try to adapt our punishment to make sure that we and the kids know why they’re being punished, and also try to modify it so that they aren’t being abandoned and forced out of the family because they acted out.  I don’t want my kids to feel like we don’t love them as much or want to be around them when they’re behaving badly.  I don’t want them to think that my love is conditional on perfect behavior, because it’s not.  So, I love them harder when they’re rotten, and try really hard to stay calm.

And I apologize when I yell at them or snap at them.  Because I want to treat them with respect too.  And I want them to know that they deserve to be treated with respect.