This is a long one - but the experience is worth the entry.
Yesterday - Soren and I were playing a killer game of baseball. By we - I mean him. Soren is up for sharing just about everything - BUT his bat and ball. I realized this during our playdate a couple days ago and thought we could work on it yesterday.
As I was snapping photos of him playing T-ball, I thought I would ask him politely if 'momma could have a turn.' But that didn't work. So I put the camera down, got on his level, asked him to look at momma and talked about sharing and momma would like to give it a try. He politely handed the bat and ball over and caught the ball like a pro! It was awesome. So then it was his turn.
This is where it gets hairy. I asked again if momma could have a turn. NOPE! So I put the camera down and got on his level once again. He handed me the bat - a little more reluctantly, but said 'momma's turn!' I thought we were set to go. As I put the ball on the T and get ready to swing - he say's 'cam?' (his version of camera) - proceeds to pick it up and then throw it on the ground. Yes. Momma's nice Nikon D3100, on the ground...lens first.
Here is the teachable moment. I took a deep breath as Soren watched for my reaction. I said 'Oh No!'(NO yelling!) with a very genuine sad face and sat down to inspect my camera. I kept my cool - that was the important part. I've thought about this a lot and I have concluded that the calmer I am when something hurts my feelings or makes me angry - the more likely Soren will begin to emulate that behavior. Lead by example right? He picked up the bat, but kept watching me. He couldn't bring himself to play anymore.
So I turned to him and said very calmly 'Hey buddy, I think we need to go inside and cool down for a bit, huh? Sound good?' and bent down next to him. He wrapped his arms around my neck and nestled his head down. I put him in his bed with his blanket and pacifier (our version of time out) and said to him 'momma is upset and sad, but you need to know - I love you very, very much.' and kissed his forehead. I checked the camera out and thankfully that 60 dollar UV filter was a great insurance policy and both the lens and body checked out OK.
I went back into his room and sat on his bed. He turned over and proceeded with the finale of our 'teachable momement'. I said to him 'I need to talk to you buddy. (he looks at me intently). My camera - momma's camera (what we call the Nikon) is broken (I figured this was easier than explaining the filter was broken but the camera was ok...). It makes me very, very sad. I really like this camera - it is one of my favorite toys. Do you remember how it was broken? (tough question for a 2 and half year old... kind of retorical at this stage). You threw it buddy. Soren threw it. Does that make sense sweetie? It really hurt my feelings - momma's feelings, it wasn't very nice. I love you sweetie.' (I feel like ending with I love you is really important. It's important to me that he always understands we love him.)
Soren replied with 'not nice? Momma's cam not broken.' I shook my head and said, 'yes it is buddy'. Soren continued 'Momma's cam broken.... Soren broke it. I broke it. Not nice.' He then started reaching for my face so I bent down and he gave me the biggest hug - wouldn't let go He pulled away and said - 'Sorry momma'. My heart melted. We were both SO calm through the whole thing and I really felt like he understood. I was so impressed by his empathetic response.
We cuddled for a moment and I made sure to thank him over and over again for understanding and how much I liked how he listened. Once he pulled away I asked if he wanted to go outside again. He was elated. We went back out - but this time he didn't go for the bat and ball. He went for a ball and dust pan - handed me the ball and started counting to three. We proceeded to play together as he mimicked tennis with the pan (yes, I know, I know - should probably get a tennis racket).
This morning - my cracked filter was on the table so asked him simply, just to see if he remembered - what happened to the camera filter. He said 'broken. Soren broke it. I broke it.' and gave me another big hug. He remembered. I thanked him for the hugs and for listening and complimented his recollection of events.
Wow - I mean wow. Parenting can be so amazing. Kids are amazing, aren't they?