Monday, July 8, 2024


This peony is from my neighbor's garden.  I thought the flowers were just white until I looked more closely.  I quite like the tint of pink along the edge of some of the flowers.

Really not much going on here.  It's hot, not hot like Florida or Arizona, but hot for here.  Today they're calling for a high of 32C (90F) which means the house won't be able to cool off during the night and I'll be sleeping in the basement tonight.

 

Western salsify, a beautiful, edible weed.  Who knew?  Certainly not me.  

Jack is home from daycare today because he's got diarrhea.  Never seen anybody so excited to have diarrhea; it's the staying home part that's go him excited.  Right now he's playing Roblox in my hubby's office, later on we'll go for a short walk and maybe take some photos.  There's a slough nearby with pelicans.

I'm not happy with how I've been dealing with him. I heard a woman interviewed on CBC last week, Michaeleen Doucleff, a science writer for NPR.  She has a daughter and she was having a very difficult time trying to raise her daughter.  Michaeleen has a bachelors and a masters degree, as well as a Phd, but she still couldn't deal with her daughter's temper tantrums. She started looking at child rearing books, looking at the science behind the ideas and was appalled at the lack of scientific evidence for most of the child rearing ideas that we embrace today. I'm a science nerd too and what she was talking about made sense, so I ordered her book.

The book looks at how Mayan, Inuit and Hadzabe people raise their children, raise happy, helpful children.  Years ago I had read about a woman who had spent time with Inuit people in the 1960's and she wrote about that time in a book called "Never In Anger", Jean L. Briggs was her name; she had also written about the Inuit style of child rearing.  Michaeleen read the book and wanted to learn more about it.  The Inuit people believe that children need to be taught emotional skills in the same way that reading and arithmetic skills are taught.  Children are not born with the emotional skills they need in life, we shape them.  That belief, that children are not born with emotional skills, but that they must be taught, means that they don't think children are being bad or manipulative, but rather that children have not yet learned a skill.  This removes the anger from the equation for those parents.  It's also a very different way of looking at children and their development.  Westerners/Europeans have a culture steeped in original sin which colours how we see our children, even if we don't realize it.  I was also raised in the "spare the rod, spoil the child" era, an era which believed that goodness and obedience could be beaten into a child. 

When I think about Indigenous cultures and what they must have felt when Europeans arrived and started having children, they must have been shocked by the brutality of European child rearing practices.  And then to have those Europeans declare them to be savages and take their children away to be beaten into submissions, it's a true testament to the Inuit culture, and all Indigenous cultures, that their culture and child rearing practices survived in any way.  It also makes me weep to realize how much damage Europeans did to Indigenous peoples and their children.  It was a crime that I'm only now beginning to understand.

I'm almost finished the book, "Hunt, Gather, Parent: What Ancient Cultures Can Teach Us About The Lost Art Of Raising Happy, Helpful Little Humans" .  Now I'm in the process of translating it into bullet points that I can put on my fridge, to remind me what I need to do.  Right now I yell at Jack sometimes, not often but often enough that I really don't like it.  And I lose my temper, which I don't like at all.  I was raised in an angry house and I don't want Jack raised that way.  If there is a better way to deal with small people, I'm happy to try it and it would be good for me as well.  When I lose my temper, I always feel like a failure, that I'm just like my father.  My father's anger left me with lifelong scars and I don't want to pass that along to Jack. My own children still bear the scars of my anger and I don't want it to continue, not if there is a better to do things.

It's hard writing about being a bad mother to my children.  I did the best I could, with the tools I had but it makes me very sad to look back and see how much damage my own anger did.  I don't know if my own father was ever able to do that, to look back and acknowledge what he had done, but I can and I'm thankful that I'm still able to learn how to be a better parent. 

27 comments:

  1. The flowers are - quite literally - amazing. The more we look the more we see.
    Your last paragraph is both sad and yet wise - I wonder if we beat ourselves up too much sometime - we are not perfect and though we set expectations we always fail. It is the getting up again and aiming to do better that is the measure of where we are in the moment and not the past

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    1. I keep trying to improve. I want my grandson to have a better life than both me and my own children.

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  2. I know nothing about raising children, apart from having once been a child myself who was raised according to many of the norms of the day. It is truly admirable and inspiring that you are willing to consider new ways to parent in an effort to give Jack the best upbringing possible. Good luck on this new path!

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  3. I greatly admire you for this. That you are open to learning, that you recognize the actions you want to change. This is admirable. Jack has had a lot to contend with in his short life. Your concern over this and how you may be adding to it makes you a good mother. Warts and all.

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    1. Life is for learning, isn't it? I only hope I can learn the lesson and impliment it.

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  4. A lot of adults never want to take accountability for their actions - kudos to you for realizing you can do better in your approach with Jack! I admire you.

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    1. I've come to understand, as I've gotten older, that admitting your mistakes is vital. How else do we learn?

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  5. I absolutely love that peony! We are human too and will lose our tempers but being self-aware is so important to how we move forward from it. My older daughter is very good at teaching her 4 year old strategies for handling his emotions and asking him for options when he's feeling a certain way. I was not at all good at that and looking back, I do feel like a failure, especially with my younger daughter.

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    1. I would imagine that every mother that's ever lived has felt like a failure at some point.

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  6. Some children are born more able to learn quickly how to walk or talk and some children are not. We would not get angry with the one who's a month or two slower than another child. I agree about the emotions. Some children seem to inherently have more skill at learning social clues and learning to regulate themselves and others just don't. Again- we shouldn't get angry.
    And yet. We all do. And of course how often we get angry or how deeply angry we get comes from our own nature and nurture. I think it is amazing that you are so open to learning new ways to deal with Jack. You should be proud of yourself. I think that book must be very interesting.

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    1. The irony is that I am impulsive and have a hard time regulating my emotions, and I'm trying to both learn how to do that and teach it, at the same time.

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  7. There is no road map to being a parent. I know that with my three kids I screwed up time and time again. But to keep myself sane when I think back and blame myself for this or that, I have to remember I did what I thought was best for my kids. I think being a teacher all of the years helped me to be calmer and quieter when dealing with difficult children. I quickly learned that losing my temper was never the best strategy, though at times I did.

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    1. The strange thing is that as a nurse, I am much calmer and more patient. Angry, difficult patients rarely get my goat, in fact, I'm the one they usually end up with when they've pissed off the other nurses. Now to translate that to home. Obiviously I can do it, not how to do it.

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    2. I think it's not strange. Your patient you have distance from. Not so with Jack, And the idea of making distance to be calmer and more patient is kind of alien with the child of your child.
      If it's any comfort, you've probably been doing"Good enough". I admire you for being willing to work on doing better. The new ideas sound exciting.

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  8. Lots of food for thought there and looking at different ways of child rearing is wise. A loss of temper seldom works.

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    1. I am inflammable at times, not something I'm pround of.

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  9. Interesting reflections upon European-style child rearing and the calmer methods developed by indigenous peoples. Last week I was busy making spaghetti bolognaise - with only five minutes to go before plating up. Phoebe came into the kitchen saying she wanted peanut butter on toast. I refused her whereupon she had a tantrum - dragging a loaf of bread out of the cupboard and trying to climb up to get a slice in the toaster. Possibly for the first time ever I raised my voice to her and tears ran down her cheeks. She just couldn't get it that with patience her hunger would very soon be satisfied. But I have reflected upon the situation a lot.

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    1. She's not ready to learn that lesson, is what the Inuit people would say. I'm hoping I can embrace that patience, at least a little more than I do now.

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  10. These flowers are simply gorgeous, what a skill you have with a camera!
    I was raised with limited empathy, to put it mildly. Success, as in good grades etc., was what mattered most.
    When I met my in-laws, it took me a while to realise that they never criticized their children, grandchildren, anybody. Instead, there would be a genuine question like "why did you say/do/think that". Also, never a swear word, never ever. They had their faults, don't get me wrong, they were very catholic in a traditional way, but their life was oozing kindness first and foremost. I had a lot to learn.
    When we started out as parents, we were given a copy of "Whole child/whole parent" by Polly Berrien Berends, I believe it has seen several new editions since then. I wouldn't subscribe to all of it but have passed it on to many new parents since. The quote that found its way onto the fridge door was: "She doesn't climb on top of the sofa to knock down your lamp and make you mad, she climbs because she wants to discover freedom." - or something along these lines.

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    1. I'll have to look for that book. We value curiosity so much, except when it's in children that live with us, then it's frustrating.
      I think there is something to the idea of original sin and the church though, the idea that humans are born bad and must be made to turn back to god and a godly nature. The doctrine of original sin comes from the fourth century. Maybe it's time to update the beliefs of the christian church (I know, I'm laughing inside my head too as I write this).

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  11. That white peony with a touch of pink is so beautiful, as is the way you took the picture.

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    1. Thanks. Of course I had to google peony and then went down a rabbithole about the different kinds of peonies:)

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  12. Festiva maxima! A favourite.
    You may be interested in this garden and grower to visit in West Edmonton.
    https://www.prairiepeonies.com/
    You're doing so well, finding the beauty among the challenges.
    Keep on!

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    1. I'll have to check out that garden, thanks.

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  13. 37paddington—I read something the other day about a mother who, when her child was melting down crying, would offer her a cold glass of water and hold her as she sipped, and the little girl would invariably regain some control because the act of drinking the glass of water would interrupt the tears. I would have liked to have had that idea to try when my two were at the tantrum stage. You are doing your loving best in every moment with Jack. It’s good he has you.

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    1. That does sound like a good idea. Often he either needs time alone or time with contact, of course you never know which is the right one:)

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