Since the very first day Archie came home, I knew that I was going to have to tweak my parenting style quite a bit. Ace has become such a mature little preschooler. She has always seemed a little bit older than she is, and everyone always comments that, "wow, Ace is so mature for her age." Sometimes I worry that she is becoming a little too mature for an almost 4 year old-- like last night when we were getting dressed to go out to dinner, she was picking out her outfit, and I was making suggestions that she really didn't like when she finally told me, "Mom, I just wanna feel like an adult." Lord, please help me.
Although then she has these total baby moments at times where she literally starts saying things like "goo goo ga ga". I have no idea what that's about, but it's totally annoying. She does it when she is being shy or embarrassed around other people. Cannot wait until that phase is over.
But anyway, other than that bit of weirdness, she has always been such a mature kid, that I have been able to reason with her pretty well, and she has always really understood so much, that I haven't had to spend a lot of time repeating things. I have studied Love and Logic quite a bit, as a teacher and a mom, and I really LOVE their principles. Joey and I have tried to follow them with Ace. It is totally not easy. It is dang hard. We do our best. We have always been very straight forward with her, and she has always been a well behaved (for the most part) kid.
Then came Archie.
I tried to anticipate before he came home, what parenting him would look like. I knew that it would inevitably be different. He listened to us pretty well at first, but then there would be these moments where I would ask him to do something, or to stop doing something and he would just look at me with this, "you can't tell me what to do and I am not gonna listen to you" look. Or when we would try to get him to come somewhere with us and he didn't want to and he would just sit down with his legs and arms crossed. It was like he was challenging us. Well, he was challenging us. And it was challenging.
"Who you tellin to move?"
Then there were these few times when I would pull out what I like to call the "cheese factor". I am not a cheesy person by nature. My sense of humor is pretty dry, and I am not overly cheery. I mean, I am a cheerful person, my voice just doesn't get squeaky and I don't tend to use words like "golly gee!" and "super neato!" Don't get me wrong, I love a good cheese ball. I have some cheesy friends who I absolutely love. In fact, I am married to one (love you, Joey). It's just not me.
But it is what my little man needed.
For example, if I were to say, "Archie, come on right now, we are going to the car." He would sit down on the ground ready for a battle. If I were to in that exact same moment put on the cheesiest grin and say (in a hard for me to reach, high-pitched, practically singing voice), "Hey my sweet little Archie Bear! Will you come with Mama to the car now please? It's gonna be so fun!" His little face would light up and a smile would stretch from ear to ear, and he would jump up and run to the car.
"Well, why didn't you just say it like that the first time?!"
It took me quite a while to remember that this was how I needed to be with him. It was what he responded best to. I think it made him feel very safe and secure.
With time, and as he learned to fully trust us, I have had to pull out the cheese factor less frequently and less dramatically. In the beginning he needed it all day every day, and "super dee dooper!" cheesy. I really had to be a good actor.
But ultimately, I have become what feels like two different moms at times. Love and Logic doesn't usually work on Archie, but Ace really thrives off of it. And it is hard to remember which kid, at which moment, to be which mom to. Often times when we are out and about, say at that mall, I am okay with Ace walking a few feet in front of me, or beside me but not holding hands. I know that she will stay with me and keep moving in the direction we are going. But I can't let Archie do that. If we aren't holding hands, and something catches his eye in a store we passed, he is going to run as fast as he can (which thankfully is insanely slow) to get to that shiny object. But of course, Archie doesn't understand why he can't have some of the freedoms that she can have. It is just a tricky line that I am trying to balance on.
While I like to let Ace figure things out on her own, and make a lot of choices, which might lead to failure or a not-so-happy camper, Archie needs to be told very clearly what to do. He needs a ton of instruction, repetition, redirection, and reminders. Ace LOVES choices. She is even starting to throw some Love and Logic back at me now. We were at a playground a few days ago, and out of nowhere she said to me, "Mom, I am almost ready to go. We can leave in 5 hours or 6 hours. Your choice." (Clearly she hasn't mastered the concept of time, but she is obviously catching onto my ways).
I have been trying for the last six months to figure out how to blend these two moms into one. I have been desperately trying to find ways to be able to parent them the same so that I don't get so flustered and confused.
But I have finally come to realize that it is okay to be two different moms at times. At my core, deep down, I am the exact same mom to both of them. They get the same cuddles, they get the same ridiculous amount of kisses that leave them both saying, "alright, alright, that's enough, mom". They get the same wanna be singer who also thinks she has some serious dance moves, when in reality I can't hold a note and I probably dance a lot like Elaine Benes.
I embarrass them both equally (already).
Two kids with BIG personalities. Both very stubborn. Both very much unique individuals. Both with their own opinions.
Archie does love to make his own choices-- and I am thrilled when he can successfully make a good choice on his own. Or at least one that I can live with. So if you see him out and about looking like this......
Know that I let him make some choices of his own that morning.
Lots of Love!