Now call me brilliant, but I just realised something amazing: all my kids are different!
Did I blow your mind? 😉
Obviously I’m kidding. I have known for a good little while now (the last few weeks at least 😉 ) that all four of my babies, though similar in so many ways, are also well and truly their own personalities. They have different likes, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, quirks and foibles. They are very much their own people.
With this in mind, it’s obvious to conclude that of course they all need to be parented slightly differently, a fact that became all too apparent to me the other day.
We have a saying, in our family, that we have used with great success in the past with the two oldest girls. Now for the sake of this post, let’s just say that this saying is ‘you do the hokey pokey and you turn around,’ (which it’s definitely not, but works for these literary purposes.) This particular phrase is pulled out after poor decision-making. Boatman and I will ask the child in question ‘did you do the hokey pokey and turn yourself around’ and with a sad heart, they realise that no, they didn’t, and (usually) change their actions the next time around.
We’ve recently started using this same saying with mr BJ, with, I regret to say, a good deal less success. The first time I asked him if he had done the hokey pokey, he just looked devastated. Completely heart broken. As if the idea of the hokey pokey was just too much for his little heart to bear. However, he did confess that he was hokey pokey less, and would attempt to rectify the situation in the past. A win, we thought.
Sadly, it would not be for too long.
The other day, after a spectacular display of emotion inspired by the dire prospect of bedtime approaching, Boatman asked the young man if he had done the hokey pokey. Now I’m not sure of the exact words spoken, but the general idea was that, no he hadn’t done the hokey pokey, and nor did he see the point of doing the hokey pokey ever. The hokey pokey, is just too hard to do.
After an unsuccessful attempt at reasoning with him, Boatman then just told BJ to go to bed and he would see him in the morning.
This then inspired yet another outburst about the evils of sleep and bed time, and the whole having to rest your body process, which basically ended with (and I’m paraphrasing here) “why do you care? I didn’t do the hokey pokey!!!!”
Clearly, this particular saying was not going to work for this child. Clearly, this particular question was causing a little more harm than good, and making him feel completely ostracised from the rest of us.
Sometimes, as a parent, that happens. You try and do the right thing by your child, and they don’t understand or you don’t quite do it correctly, and they end up just a little more hurt. And then you end up really hurt, because let’s be honest, none of us really want to hurt our babies at all.
After this particular night, Boatman and I decided that perhaps asking Bailey if he had done the hokey pokey was not the right question to use for him. We needed instead, to come up with a different approach that will help him, and not make him feel like he’s a failure. We don’t ever want him to feel like a failure, or that he is not good enough.
We are still to come up with an alternative method to use, but there are two things that help us stay focused and work out the best way to deal with each child and all their differences.
The first one, is that it’s ok to make mistakes, and say sorry. Kids can’t learn how to do that unless they see parents who are ready and willing to admit they are imperfect and ask for forgiveness. We are going to mess up; we are not going to get it right all the time, and we need to be able to apologise and explain that we really, really tried, but we just made a mistake.
And the second thing, is that despite the fact that each child may be different, our standard doesn’t change. There is an expected level of behaviour that all members of our family are expected to abide by, and whilst the level of complicity differs based on age and understanding, the standard itself remains the same. The core values (things like honour, respect, truth, kindness, love, etc etc) don’t change. They are constant and something to aim for.
So if doing the Hokey Pokey is something that we hold in high regard (which we don’t), then we just need to work out a better way to inspire a five-year old boy, that it really is the dance of choice, and not an impossible goal to reach.
Because that’s what it’s all about. 🙂