I took some time today to reflect on this past week, with the goal of identifying periods of unrest and planning changes for the new week. The biggest conflict happened when I picked Cricket up from preschool on Thursday at 1 pm. She ran away from me when we got to the car door, taking off down the sidewalk and wouldn’t come back after I called her twice. When she got too far away, I ran after her and grabbed her.
When I picked her up, she flailed and cried. I ended up plopping her into the car and banging my head on the doorframe. I yelled and threatened to take her to a police station so that an officer could tell her how dangerous it is to run away on a city street. She cried in absolute terror at the thought of going to a police station.
Not a peaceful moment.
I think I do a lot of things right. I am aware of when she’s tired or hungry and if that might be the cause of her misbehavior. I use the language that they teach in How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. We talk a lot. But, I am at a loss at how to handle this situation when she thinks it’s funny and I think it’s dangerous.
So this morning I entered my quiet time with a specific intention: for advice on handling this type of situation. I started by reading my Psalms (I’m on #19) and was struck by the last verse:
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight.
The first thing I thought of was that I really need to watch what comes out of my mouth (as is stated in Psalms and elsewhere in the Bible repeatedly). I shouldn’t have threatened to bring her to the police station, because she might end up being terrified of police officers! The insight that I got from this was that although nothing might help during the incident, talking about it afterwards in calm space and time might help to reduce future incidents.
So when I was making Cricket’s dinner, I brought up the topic and asked her if she remembered what happened. I told her that it frightened me because I don’t want her to get hurt. I asked her if she could think of what she or I could do so that this wouldn’t happen again. She didn’t answer me, which I find intriguing. I dropped the subject, planning to let it go for the moment and give her time to think about it.
BUT, the most interesting thing that happened was that because I was meditating on a peaceful solution to this problem, it was on my mind all day. The root of the problem became clearer and clearer as the day wore on. It’s not the type of misbehavior, it’s the time of day. My husband had taken Cricket to the library where she proceeded to throw a tantrum when it was time to leave. It was 1:00. Then I remembered the world-class tantrum she threw in Marshalls. It was 1:00. Duh. I had never pieced this together since we are always home at this time of day. She’s only recently started staying at school for lunch until 1 pm.
So given all of this data, what am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to go back to her old schedule where she gets out of school at 11:15? Am I supposed to take her for a long drive after school (if I can get her into the car!) so that she’ll fall asleep? I have no answers right now, only the hope that because I finally identified the problem a solution will present itself, and I will be more aware that this precise time of day is a challenge for Cricket.
And I only identified the problem because of my quiet time – or my “journey to peace” as one special reader calls it.
I welcome your suggestions!