Monday, September 26, 2011

Mashing Buttons

My grandmothers were Southern women from Alabama (Mobile and Sylacauga). Naturally, they had some wonderful "Southern-isms"—like "fixin' to" or "might could" or (my favorite) "God doesn't like ugly.” And of course, neither Grandma nor Nana ever "pushed" buttons. They Mashed them. Now, Mashing a button is much more purposeful than just pushing a button. You MEAN it when you Mash a button.

Well, let me tell you something. My boys have learned how to Mash my buttons. And I'm not talking about remote control buttons. I'm talking about my parenting buttons. Lately I've had less patience than usual with their Mashing—maybe it's the extreme heat we've had; maybe I'm just tired and cranky; maybe I've just turned into the grumpy old lady who screams at kids to "get off my lawn!"

Just as each boy in my house is a unique individual, each one has a unique way of Mashing my buttons. J is a picky eater AND he's a tween. The combination often leads to a sulking 11-year-old souring the family dinner experience. I also get lots of heavy sighs, eye-rolling, and an "I'm-so-clearly-better-than-you" attitude. C is very observant and sees things in black-and-white. He also announces everything he thinks as he's thinking it, including constant comparisons between Mommy's house/car/hair and our house/my car/my hair. Sam is going through a phase of power struggles and temper tantrums. He's also started treating Mommy and Daddy differently. When Daddy picks up from school, Sam will walk to the car on his own two legs, carrying his daily sheet, without need of paci. When Mommy picks up, he must be carried out, he must not have to deal with his daily sheet, and he must have a paci for the ride home.

I try very hard to remember that they are the kids, and I'm the adult, so I need to be the one to defuse the button Mashing. I need to be the one to bite my tongue, to gently but firmly present to the tween that a balanced, nutritional meal is important, as is variety of diet, which is why we can’t have Chick-Fil-A every night; to kindly remind the observant one that he need not always say what he's thinks when he thinks it, even if he doesn't mean to hurt my feelings; and to stay calm during temper tantrums and gently and firmly say "No, you don't need paci for the ride home."

But you know what? Sometimes I forget; sometimes I just want to Mash their buttons right back. Sometimes I retaliate by Mashing my husband's buttons. These are not my finer moments. However, I'm always up for self-improvement (or at least striving for it), and am open to new ideas for ways to handle it when I’m losing my cool. What do you do when your family is Mashing your buttons?

Julie Daneman is wife to Bryan, Stepmom to Jacob and Caleb, and Mommy to Sam. They are a boisterous, loving, happy interfaith family who know all of each other's buttons.

No comments:

Post a Comment