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If you want rational, they'll give you their version

"Mommy, you've made me very disappointed!" she screamed from the top of her lungs.  Repeating the same phrase over and over and over again.  The emotions continued to rise.  Tears drenched her pillow as she lay kicking in her bed.  I gently tried to calm her down, but to no avail.  Nothing could calm the monster, after all, she was very disappointed.  But, I tried again, "Sweet Pea, you need to take a deep breath and calm down."  We breathed in together and out together.  The fire from her face was beginning to settle.  We breathed again.  The tears gentled.  We counted down: 10...9...8...Breathe...7...6...5...Smile...4...3...2...Relax...1...  Ah.  The moment was calm.  I stared into the eyes of my toddler and said, "Let's talk...Sweet Pea, you cannot eat grapes in bed during naptime."  And, the screaming began again, "Mommy, you've made me very disappointed!"

I like to believe that people are rational creatures.  After all, we learn, we grow, and we improve ourselves.  However, after becoming a parent, I've learned that being rational is a learned and grown responses.  They are learned through modeling.  They are grown through experience.  I told my daughter that she made me very disappointed when she did not listen and obey me.  Therefore, she learned the word disappointed and that it meant something to the extent that I was not happy.  She then used the word to describe her unhappiness when I would not give her what she wanted at the exact moment she wanted it.  For a toddler, she was being rational.  After all, she does not have the same 30+ years of rational experience that I have.  They repeat the phrases that we say to them or phrases they hear from other people because it's what they know.  They do not understand context. 

This lack of understanding and experience leads us to believe that our children are dysfunctional or that we are bad parents.  We want our children to be normal yet we often don't recognize that, for their age group, they often are normal.  I've learned that, for my part, if I want to maintain my rationality, then I have to learn, grow, and improve myself.  This often involves reverting to a toddler mentality in order to better understand what they're going through.  However, I also find that finishing my day with wine or a cocktail works, too.  After all, Mama Law learned: If you want them to behave as rational creatures, then they'll give you their age-appropriate version. 

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