As I mentioned previously, Benji has started vocally and physically expressing his displeasure when thwarted in his desires. Triggers include, but are not limited to, not being allowed to:
– Eat crayons, plastic bags, or rocks
– Play on the stairs
– Touch the flame on the stove
– Deliberately pour milk or water onto his high-chair tray and self
– Get out of the stroller halfway through a walk because he’s bored
– Play with my Lego model semi-truck cab
– Carry and nibble Cheerios everywhere
– Eat apples in big bites
– Pull the leaves off my avocado plant
– Play with my bike wheels
– Have everything instantly
…And so forth. You get the idea. At first, I found this list funny, and I still do, but since giving it some thought, I also respect his feelings about these things more. After all, who’s to say that things I find frustrating or upsetting are any more valid, logical, or reasonable?
Here’s a (by no means comprehensive) sample of my list. I’ve felt upset when:
– I dropped my phone and cracked the screen
– Google Maps can’t find the nearest Barnes & Noble
– I miscommunicate or have a conflict with Ian
– I sleep badly
– My computer takes 5 minutes to open Outlook
– There’s nothing in the fridge that sounds good
– Benji naps badly
– I have to pick up toys, wash dishes, do laundry, etc. again, when I’d rather do something else
– I don’t know what to give for Christmas
This is certainly a much more grown-up list, but are those items really more valid reasons to react negatively? It’s all a matter of perspective. I’m not starving, sick, homeless, alone; I’ve got far more of everything than I could possibly need. Yet I get frustrated and upset exactly as Benji does when the world doesn’t accommodate itself to him.
In short, I understand better that Benji’s and my triggers are equally trivial, and that helps me respect his feelings better. At the same time, it makes me realize that the antidote to much of my dissatisfaction is deliberate, conscious, active gratefulness, a choice and behavior that I would also do well to instill in Benji to help him live more fully. As a result, I’m going to try to start each day with thanks, appreciating what I do have rather than dwelling on what I lack.
Meanwhile, I’m still not going to let my son eat crayons, even if they are nontoxic.