four rules and a mess of an internal dialogue

After an epic tantrum because our little homebody didn’t want to go grocery shopping, a brief post-meltdown nap in the car, and some food, Isaiah and I hung in the parking lot of Trader Joe’s and talked about four simple guidelines for life:

  1. It’s okay to feel angry.
  2. People can’t hear you when you scream at them.
  3. People can hear you when you stay calm and use words.
  4. Sometimes, you just gotta’ do things you don’t want to. And that’s okay, because we’re all in the same boat.

And then, a caveat talk about peer pressure, the differences between obeying mommy and daddy versus strangers and desire versus danger, and a reminder to scream at the top of his lungs if someone ever tries to take him.

Or something.

That last part feels fuzzy in my head because I was also having an internal dialogue about whether or not I should complicate matters, but then thinking that there are important distinctions to make and I want him to have the self-awareness/groundedness/good sense/compassion/skepticism/courage/independence to stand up for himself and for others, even if it means going against the prevailing powers. But he’s five, and how much of this can I distill into four-word concepts powered by a mnemonic device or some other trigger so that he can actually remember or it becomes a part of his DNA? And how much is one parking lot conversation going to matter? No, it matters a lot, because it’s these small moments that make up the fabric of his life and understanding, that form who he becomes.

Hard not to feel overwhelmed.

Safety is so much more than light sockets and hard corners.

Living in fear isn’t an option. For me, or for my child.

Thankful for a community of parents who I know are thinking and wrestling and having similar conversations, and that I’m not the only one feeding him positive messages. It’s not Giehl and I against the world (it’s not even me against Giehl). Isaiah has friends whose parents will see and seize similar opportunities, who reject the idea that since Isaiah isn’t their biological offspring, he’s “none of their business.” Thank God for those men and women (and children, too, who also do their fair share of teaching).


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