The idea of time dragging by is such a foreign concept to me these days.
Most days I’m up and moving from start to finish. Gideon keeps me busy!
I know I say this every month, and although this has been the most parentally-challenging phase in our short lives as parents, we both agree that 15 month old Gideon is our favorite. One moment we are gushing all over our little toddler, and the next we are scrambling to figure out how to help this tiny person handle his gargantuan emotions.
Our biggest challenge right now is teaching Gideon how to channel his feelings, so he can regulate them. He’s began having temper outbursts, which tells us that he feels strongly about something and doesn’t know what to do about it. “I’m MAD!” is the extent of Gideon’s thought process when he doesn’t get his way. When he sees that we don’t give in, he then tries to figure out what it would take to change our minds. It’s part of his job as a 15 month old to explore – not just how far he can go, or what he’s physically capable of – but what he can do to change the circumstances in his favor. Our job is to validate his emotion, and show him what to do next without budging on the limits we’ve set. We want Gideon to know that he can always verbalize how he feels to us, and that we’ll always listen to him. We want him to know that he doesn’t need to go to extreme measures to get his point across. Communication is inevitably frustrating for him right now in most [abstract] situations, but as he gets older we want to have a wide open line of communication about everything!
That being said, Gideon is not even 2 years old yet. We need to be realistic about our expectations of his response to our instruction. Right now, a successful response to our instruction might be yelling without the banging on his tray. We may accept that and validate it as an appropriate expression of anger on his part. We are not unaware of how frustrating it is when you can’t have something that you want so badly. Not to mention, he hasn’t found his words yet. Talk about frustrating!
I feel like the source of Gideon’s frustrated yelling is never rooted in defiance – but rather in him simply trying to tell us that he’s not happy with the situation with the added annoyance of feeling misunderstood.
Give it a month, and it’ll all change. Defiance might kick in, he might start biting/kicking/hitting. No point in dwelling on what might happen. We’re doing what we can right now, and hoping that our efforts pay off in the long run. The older he gets, the more tools we’ll gather in our parent tool belts to deal with what’s next. We knew going into it that parenting would evolve, and every phase of Gideon’s life would bring new challenges. So our plan is to stick to our guns, discuss things and be on the same page, and present a united front to Gideon and everyone who might scrutinize our parenting. I don’t know what I’d do without Daniel by my side.
To put more of a positive spin on these reflections of mine, I want to chronicle a huge success that I witnessed today. Gideon’s biggest outburst yet was one day when Daniel was setting a limit on how far Gideon could walk down our driveway. We live on a relatively busy road, and our house is right past a sharp curve. We have had a few cars on our lawn over the last few years, and we take extreme caution in how close Gideon is allowed to get to the street. There is a specific line in the driveway that he is not permitted to cross.
On this specific day, Gideon was determined to walk to the street, and Daniel was determined to not allow it. I watched from our dining room window, as Daniel did a wonderful job of getting down to Gideon’s level and talking to him calm but firmly. Gideon knew exactly what Daniel was saying, and was having none of it. Daniel gave him 2 or 3 chances to follow directions. Every time Gideon lost it, Daniel would bring Gideon into the house and let him have the floor to let it all out. We stayed close and let him know we understood and were listening (we are trying to be purposeful about “teachable moments”, and Gideon is not teachable during meltdowns – so we wait). When Gideon was collected enough, Daniel told him that he would love to have fun outside, but that first required obeying. After a few attempts, they’d both had enough and it was time for dinner anyways. In true Gideon fashion, food made him forget all his worries.
Today, a week or two later, Gideon and I were outside while Daniel mowed the lawn, and I decided to see just what my boy had learned from that experience with his dad. Gideon remembered exactly what was taught! He began to slow his pace as he approached “the line”, and I said “remember, here we stop”. And he stopped! He didn’t put up a struggle the whole time were outside. Way to go Daniel! There was one time when he smiled at me and put one foot past the line. I looked away letting him know that I was not going to play his game (because it isn’t a game), and that was the extent of his “exploration”. I’ve found that Gideon is more likely to be persistent in testing his limits when I react to what he shouldn’t be doing after he knows better. Instead, what seems to work best is celebrating when he does what he should. He loves attention, and he can have all of mine when he obeys!
Gideon brings so much joy to our lives that we are often overwhelmed, and wonder what on earth with did with our lives before he arrived. We can’t wait for his communication to get better and better. I always tell him, in the car, at the table, during bath time, “Tell me all your thoughts. I want to know them all “. I can’t wait for the first time I hear him tell me “I love you”.
We have been really emphasizing basic manners with Gideon, and Daniel has been consistently telling Gideon to thank me for the meal at dinner time. My highlight for the day is when Gideon signed “thank you” at dinner all on his own, simply because he was grateful. So sweet!
Abby’s loud meowing just woke Gideon from his slumber, and he’s banging on the side of his crib with his pacifier. “Mom! I’m awake! Come check on me!”. Duty calls.
This just in! If you are considering adopting a cat, look no further. I’ve got an adorable tabby who is house trained, has all her vaccines, and no chance of procreating.