Saturday, 8 December 2012

You can lead a horse to water...

One of the things that bothered me about how the blog was going was the way I was portraying the boys, as if they were magical creatures who spent their waking time engaged in wonderful activities with never a cross word between us... and of course that's really not how it is... here's an account of a disastrous afternoon and how we learnt from it.

After a few weeks of really crappy weather which included a flood and our vegetables freezing, this weekend finally the sun shone! So this morning I asked the boys if they wanted to go to the park/woods/anywhere outside of the house! They didn't... Reuben wanted to play games on Disney Junior and Isaac wanted to play with the ipad, they even closed the curtains as the sun was too bright and they couldn't see their screens... So this is where I made my mistake! You would think that someone like me who spends a lot of time going on about non-coercion, would immediately see the possible scenarios here. I didn't... I was so desperate to go out that I decided for everyone that that was what we were going to do, I picked their favourite park and playground and made them a picnic with their favourite food, waited till there was a lull in the games and bundled them into the car. Oh foolish woman! It didn't matter that they love that particular park and food, they hadn't made the decision to go there and to eat it, I had.

As soon as we got there Reuben said he was tired and needed to be carried, but as we got to the playground they seemed happy enough.

Knighton Park in Leicester

It only lasted about 15 minutes, Reuben got very angry with something he couldn't do on his own, shouted at me to do it for him, I helped him for a while but it wasn't making him any happier and I hated the task (using a digger to make a hole out of very wet sand), the fact that he was making me feel coerced and cross did not escape me. Isaac was hungry so we tried to sit down for lunch and Reuben wasn't hungry and got cross and upset again, to the point that I suggested maybe we should go back to the car, much shouting ensued... go for a walk then? We then went for what turned out to be a nice walk but the mood was ruined and Reuben was cross. We had our (very late) lunch in the car. I tried to salvage the situation by suggesting a film but the next show we wanted to see was nearly 2 hours later, so we went home.

But in the car on the way back we discussed what had happened and had a think about how we could do it better next time. Suggestions included Reuben playing his game till HE was ready to go out (we could have done, we had nothing else planned) and mummy going for a walk in the garden (we do have a huge garden that we rarely use in the winter, I saw a fox earlier this morning and there's horses in the paddock so I could have found plenty to do there and Reuben could have played his games), we then planned the cinema for tomorrow and a walk in town to see the Xmas lights.
My mistake was making decisions based on what I thought was good for the boys, surely a few hours in the park are better than spending ages in front of a screen? But any activity, as good and healthy as it may be, cannot really be appreciated if someone has forced us into it. And any good that might have come from being in the fresh air was overrun by all the anger and upset that Reuben felt. In a way I am lucky that Reuben is very vocal and articulate and has no problems in expressing his feelings, I always know when something is not right and needs fixing!!!

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