I’m On Your Side
“I’m on your side. I want to do what’s best for you but I don’t know what that is. I need your help to understand. Are you willing to help me?” “No.”
“Ok. Well I am ready to listen to you when you are ready to tell me. Come get me when you are ready. I love you.”
When Ax was littler than he is now I used to use this kind of psyche-patient talk with him pretty often: “I’m on your side. Help me understand what you need. I love you.”
It worked, from my perspective, pretty well. Meaning, it seemed to expedite the process of recovering from out of control emotional states to coherence and balance.
And it seemed to get me out of the job of constantly trying to figure out what he needed. Much of the time he didn’t even know what he needed, he just needed to feel potent, in control, autonomous.
Tears, wailing, misery, then, “I don’t like this cup!”
“Oh, ok what cup do you like?”
On and on and on and on, age 1 and a half to maybe 4. Now, today, I don’t remember the last time Ax lashed out or got really upset or angry. It’s just not a thing. He has his emotions, but he names them, we talk about whatever’s going on, and then we move on.
And I don’t lash out either, or get really upset with him. I have expectations and needs and I trust he will work with me to meet them, just like I try to meet his. He doesn’t always like it, sometimes he asks for a reprieve, sometimes I give him one.
Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I explain that part of my job as mom is to help him develop healthy habits and I wouldn’t be doing a good job if I let him xyz. These days the “I’m trying to be a good mom” line seems to be coming into play more.
Whatever the language, Ax knows that he, Mike, and I are on the same team. We’re on each other’s side. I’m gonna keep going.