A lot of the drama we've been dealing with the last couple of days has stemmed from the beginnings of George's search for independence:
Told to wear a coat on a windy day = full meltdown in the school hallways.
Told to brush his teeth before school = full meltdown in the living room.
Told to walk with me, not run ahead = full meltdown in the school parking lot. (It's somehow both embarrassing and wonderful that all of his aides and teachers knew what was going on before we even made it in the building, as the principal had radioed in to them. They stepped in and took over with complete calm and confidence.)
Told to quit poking at his sister while she was getting dressed = well, both of them were poking, so that turned into quite a lot of yelling from all of us.
There are so many things that kids are told to do throughout the day. Our days are always very structured, both kids respond well to knowing the plan for the day. But the little restrictions, rules, and corrections that occur all day long must get tiring. Especially when you're an active little guy, anxious to do everything independently. (He stopped holding my hand shortly after school started this fall. Ripped my heart to shreds!)
So much of what I was dealing with was really a power play. I had it, he wanted it. So yesterday after school, I started paying attention (about time, huh?) and changing how I wield that power.
Instead of telling him to put on his coat after school, I brought a sweatshirt with me and allowed him to choose which one to put on. He chose the coat, and put it on without a fuss.
Instead of telling him it was time to brush his teeth, I asked him to go "wake up Wall-e" (his toothbrush has Wall-e on it, and is stored in the medicine cabinet). He ran to the bathroom, yelling, "Good morning, Wall-e! It's time to get up and brush teeth!"
I still reminded him that we had to walk together as we went in to school, but I allowed him to lead Emma & I in games: like walking in a line, pretending to be a train; or having him tell me when I should duck down to walk beneath tree branches, and then exaggerating the movements.
While they were getting dressed this morning, instead of doing chores, I sat down on the floor beside them. I was able to keep Emma moving, deflect skirmishes before they got going, and help keep the energy calm and happy. I give Emma a lot of credit for that, too. I asked her to help me maintain a peaceful morning and she did a great job.
We had a great morning.
Every time we go through a rough spot with George, there's always a reason. And usually, if I pay attention, it's obvious. We just have to find our way through.