The babysitting thing has been a challenge lately. Heck, parenting one child has been a challenge this week. Every day is different, but they do know how to press my buttons. I'm afraid I don't always deal with it so well.
Some days are better than others, and I know that they are hearing what I say to them. I know this because they keep repeating it back to me. I was changing all of the toddler diapers the other day in preparation for nap, and Luke just had to scream it out in his bouncer. He had decided that he would not be happy unless he was held, but I needed both hands (and some other limbs...sheesh, toddlers) to manage the diaper changes, so he was out of luck. Addie, my screamer (Olivia and Addie are almost always neck-and-neck in this competition, but Addie manages to claim the title EVERY TIME), kept saying, "No screaming, Luke! No screaming, Luke!"
So, yeah, they hear me.
At the end of every day I'm always disappointed with myself to some degree or another. The baby ends up crying by himself more often than he'd like. I always lose my cool with the toddlers at least once a day and start yelling or yanking (one kid off of another, usually) or generally upsetting someone. But there's only so much time-out that kids can get before it loses all of it's effectiveness. So what else can I do? What else will work? (This is an actual question. I'll take any suggestions you have. Seriously.)
One thing about this gig, though...it really makes me reflect on sin and repentance. Sometimes in our daily lives it's easy to ignore those "everyday sins" that just happen over and over. But dealing with my daily failures in keeping a calm environment with the kids...well, kids just sort of magnify your mistakes by reflecting them back to you. "No screaming, Mommy." And I have to realize that the screaming is wrong. Even when I do it. Especially when I do it. Because how are the kids going to learn that it's not OK to scream if all they hear from me is frustrated screaming?
Luckily, I get to do it over again tomorrow. Yippee. I think maybe God is trying to teach me something about patience and control. I'm not sure what, yet, but I'm relatively certain that these kids will drive the lesson home by the end of the school year.