True Self to True Self, Come In True Self ...
My higher self is going to have to have a talk with Ax’s higher self today. Our truer selves are gonna pow wow. Lately he’s been pretty ornery and argumentative when I tell him it’s time to leave a this thing, or time to do a that thing, or, especially, time to turn off the TV. His karate sensei asked the kids in his class what they were going to do at home to be more helpful so they could earn their “self control” patches and Ax said he was not going to argue about turning off the TV and was going to be a “first time listener”. When I heard that I was pretty stoked, and I’ve been trotting out his stated commitment to be a “first time listener” when we get into disagreements about what the appropriate action is at any given time.
Here’s the thing though: I’m not a freaking first time listener, so why should I expect him to be? Also, I think it’s pretty human and understandable for him to argue against stuff he doesn’t want to do. It’s annoying for me, inconvenient and unpleasant for me, but it’s really not his job to be a constant pleasure. It’s his job to be himself and it’s my job to love him as he is. And to try to get him to bed at a decent hour, lovingly.
So, if I’m serenity prayering this one – looking at accepting him as he is, which is argumentative, and looking to change what I can, which is what I’m doing and how I’m being, I’ve got some options:
I could start the getting ready and transitioning processes earlier to build in time for the arguing. I could tee him up for the transitions better perhaps, use things like timers and alarms so it feels more objective than my simply saying, “It’s time.” I could use more bribes and threats, though I’m convinced that’s trading short-term relief for long-term yuck, as described in the book, “Punished by Rewards,” by Alfie Kohn.
I don’t want Ax to feel my love is conditional AND I want him to do what I want him to when I want him to do it. But the first part is, ultimately, more important than the second part, and I gotta remember that, always. I don’t want to con him into compliance, not really. I want to help him develop into his full potential and I want him to know that’s what my role is, that he can trust me, that I’m on his side.
So I’m going to talk to him, true self to true self, and see if we can improve this dynamic together, figure out some solutions together. I will listen to him, without interrupting, listen to him describe whatever he has to describe about his dislike of being told what to do and when to do it, about how terrible I am and how miserable it is to not stay up all night for as long as it takes him.
And when he feels fully heard, when he tells me he feels like I understand him, I will tell him how I feel and what my concerns are. And we will work it out. And I will figure out how to affix that patch to his karate gi before next class. We are both doing our best. I’m gonna keep going.