As I get ready to co-launch my e-course with Queen Bee Joanne Tsianos, I think today’s story is a good reflection of the "in-the-moment" and real-life use of the topics and themes we're covering in the course modules. Here are just some topics to look forward to: Getting on the Same Page, Language & How To Use It, Validating without Spoiling, Conscious Discipline & Consequences, etc.
In the meantime, enjoy my real-life story with my son:
Monday was MLK day and the kids were off from school. We took advantage of a nice quality day at home and I took the kids out for lunch where we then did a quick stop at CVS. We got home, kicked off the shoes, hung the coats and settled in when my son pulls out a TicTac pack from his pocket. I hadn’t quite registered yet what had happened.
My son looked up at me right away with the “OH, NO … I did something bad” face and proceeded to get uncomfortable and nervous. He immediately began to nervously rattle off what happened and how it happened. But, because this was all happening in a matter of seconds I interrupted and said, “Wait, hold on. I’m confused. Where did the TicTac come from?” My son’s voice started to choke up and he was holding back his tears as he started explaining how the candy ended up in his pocket. My son’s face, body and energy was in suspense as he awaited my response. I took a deep breath and said, “Ok … Well we’ll go back to the store and return it.” Before I could say anything more he crouched down like a ball, covered his face and began crying. “Mommy, I don’t want to go back. I’m scared. Can you just go and not me?” I sat down on the floor next to him and put my hand on his shoulder. I said, “Hey monito (my nickname for him in Spanish), I know you’re afraid to go back but we’re going to do this together. I am proud that you told me the truth and it took courage to tell me right away.” He said, “But mommy, I still don’t want to go back. I’m afraid of what’s going to happen.”
I took the cue to hone in on what he was saying and follow-up with, “Monito, you mentioned being afraid twice. So, I’m curious … what do you think will happen?” All he could say was, “I don’t know…that’s why I’m scared.” I honored his fear and did not dismiss it, “You know something, that makes sense. A lot of times when we don’t know how something is going to be we get scared and nervous because we don’t know what someone will say or do.” He hugged me and buried his chest in my stomach. I said, “You know something … when I was little – just like you - I took gum from the grocery store without telling “Abu” and when she found out I also went back to the store and returned it. And you know what … the cashier was really thankful that I came back to return the gum. What do you think about that?” He looked up at me with his nervous face and said, “Well … that was nice.” I agreed that it all turned out ok and it wasn’t as scary as I thought it was going to be. I stood by his side and encouraged him that we all make mistakes and that other people are much more appreciative and understanding when we admit to our mistake, especially when we show how we’re trying to fix it. He mustered up some courage to say, “Ok, I’ll go but I don’t want to say anything. I just want to give it to the person and walk away.” I trusted my instincts and didn’t follow-up with any “but’s” and allowed the momentum of progress take hold of the moment.
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We got in the car and on the short ride over I once again gave him kudos for telling me about the Tic Tac and finding the courage to go back to the store together. When we parked the car, he got nervous again and said he didn’t want to say anything and for me to please speak for him. I said, “Baby, I’ll be with you the entire time and I can even hold you’re hand if you’d like. Since I’m the mommy, I’m going to say something first so the person at the register knows why we’re standing in line. However, it’s important that the rest of the words come from you. It was a mistake that you put the Tic Tac’s in your pocket and now you’re here to return it … and that’s a really good thing. How about we practice some different things you can say?” He was hesitant at first to try out different things to say, so I initiated some thoughts. He chimed in on what he liked (or not) about my first two ideas. He came up with his own phrasing and I could see he felt more comfortable. We went into the store, waited our turn in line and then got called up to the register. I said, “Hi there, we don’t have anything to buy today. Actually, my son would like to share something.” The woman had a confused smile and my son chimed in, “I took this by accident and I’m bringing it back to the store.” The cashier was so pleased that she leaned in at eye level to my son and said, “Hey, you know what. I really appreciate you coming back to the store and returning this to us. You did a really good thing by coming back. Just know that you can’t do something like this again, okay?” My son nodded his head in relief. The cashier finished by saying, “You helped me have a better day and I hope you’re day is better too.” We said thank you and went on our way.
As we walked out the store I leaned in to my son with a hug and kiss. I whispered in his ear that he did a brave thing admitting to his mistake and returning the candy. He smiled and said, “It was better than I thought.”