May 7, 2010

Taming Mother Bear

Mother Bear, yes Mother Bear.  She is the instinctual part of a mother that lashes out to protect her cubs.  I think I have always had it, but never knew how much it would effect me and how much I would learn from having to protect my own cubs.
Over the weekend my cousin invited us over to celebrate her husband's birthday.  Most of her side of the family was there as well as her husband's parents and brother-in-law and nephew and niece.  The nephew, I will call "smarty pants", is a few months older than Thing One.  I thought "Great!, a playmate for Thing One".  I realize that at Two, Thing One is starting to socialize with other children but still doing parallel play which is fine.  He does pretty well with other children and really put no thought behind introducing him to Smarty Pants.

Smarty Pants proved to be a handful.  He stuck his tongue out at Thing One and Thing One just looked at him perplexed.  He looked at me and continued on playing with me in the pool, which was good because I knew he wasn't going to put much attention to this little boy who was obviously not ready to socialize with him.  What ensued next was what got me fired up inside.  Thing One was playing with a car that was left pool side. Smarty Pants came across from the other side and immediately yanked the car out of Thing One's hand and said "NO MINE!".  Thing One was a little upset at this point and looked at me with eyes like "Did you see that?!?!"  It took everything out of me not to say something, but I thought it might be possible that this toy was his, so I let it go and just explained to Thing One that Smarty Pants just wasn't quite done playing with that toy. 

Over the next few hours Smarty Pants managed to pull every toy away from Thing One's hand that he would pick up, even the one's that were not his.  I was annoyed and so was Thing One.  I had such a strong desire to just say "STOP IT SMARTY PANTS! YOU LITTLE BRAT!", but I stopped myself.  What I didn't tell you was that Smarty Pants lost his mother to breast cancer a few months ago.  I stopped and thought what would his Mom want for him?  What would she do? 

As a mother you want to protect your children, you want them to be safe.  You also want to teach your children that grace under fire is best and that they can empower themselves to be able to handle conflict independent from Mom.  I think that becoming a mom I have put myself many times in the shoes of other moms when I see them struggling with a child. I often empathize with the mom who is alone with a toddler who is throwing a screaming fit in the middle of the store.  I know what that is like now, the frustration, the fear, the OMG factor.  I can relate to all of that, it makes me a little bit more patient not just with Mother's and children,  but with people in general.  I put the WWTMD?  (What Would Their Mother Do?)theory in my head. 

What became of the scrap with Smarty Pants and Thing One?  Thing One kicked him at one point when he had had just about enough of Smarty Pants pulling things away from his hands.  I stopped Thing One and said "Don't hit" (in my head I ended it with "that gently").  I then told him to tell Smarty Pants that he wasn't done playing with the toy.  I empowered my son, great learning moment for him.  I then turned to Smarty Pants and said "He isn't done with this, but we can look for something else for you to play with".  I'm sure his Mom in heaven would have said the same thing. 

What can I say?  I tamed the Momma Bear into a sweet little bear with a soft spot. :)
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