Most of my kiddos hate clean day, but we have a family motto (one of many) - "Since you are part of the family, you serve the family." I have an oddball (or two) that actually enjoy cleaning, but maybe that is something we can talk about in a different post. My wife does a great job organizing the troops, and when all is said and done we all enjoy the fruits of our labor. But every once in a while, an unexpected event presents a new life lesson.
Cleaning should be less about the "motions" and more about the result. I have a few kiddos who "dust" and never seem to remove any dust. They just go through the motions. Have you ever experienced that crazy phenomenon?
But my Little Pumpkin is thorough. When she is cleaning, things really get cleaned. So when she was vacuuming underneath the bed of her younger sister (let's call her Curls), Little Pumpkin made an interesting discovery.
Little Pumpkin is cautious and careful, but she is also caring. She wants what is best for people. She does not like being in trouble or getting people in trouble. But something was off, and I am glad she felt comfortable coming to my wife and I about it.
The Tears Begin
Curls does not like being in trouble either, but I think that her motivation comes from a different place (not bad, just different). Curls is blessed with beauty. She is the princess of the family, and she cares about how people view her from a status position (I honestly can't think of a better way to describe it).
Curls was sobbing as my wife brought her into our bedroom, where I have been working from home since March of this year. (Yes, it really has been that long). My wife kindly asked some questions, but Curls was unconsolable.
My wife: "Where did the pills come from?"
Curls: inaudible sobbing
The Drug Talk
We often talk about drinking alcohol with our kiddos. My wife's family has a history of alcohol abuse. I was raised by tee-totaling parents. As a couple, we choose not to drink alcohol because we see our own addictive tendencies, and we don't want to add fuel to the fire. We don't believe drinking alcohol in moderation is wrong, we just don't drink it. (But we reserve the right to change our minds).
Regarding narcotics, my wife and I take an even stronger stance of not wanting to introduce addictions to our lives. We have openly talked about these things we our kiddos.
The first thing that came to mind when we learned about the pills is that Curls had been stealing meds. Inside, I was very concerned, but my wife and I realized that we needed to get the full story. We tried to remain calm. Sometimes, that is one of the hardest jobs of being a parent.
My wife asked a few questions, but did not seem to get through to Curls. She was still crying. I tried to rephrase the same questions in a different way. So glad I married someone so different than myself. Our complementary communication and processing styles often gives us a better opportunity to understand our kiddos, who are equally diverse and unique.
Me: "Have you been taking pills and hiding them?
Curls: (sobbing) "No."
Me: "Can you tell me where the pills came from?"
And although I don't recall exactly what Curls said, she indicated that she had not been taking the allergies medication that she was supposed to be taking.
My wife and I sighed in relief. We don't have an overuse problem!
But Something Is Still Not Right
Curls was ashamed. For whatever reason (and we still need to explore more about the reason), she did not want to tell my wife and I that she was not able to swallow the pills.
So instead of asking for help, she hid the pills.
There were two major consequences that immediately came to mind.
- What if someone or something else swallowed the pills? Curls has two younger siblings. We reiterated that we never want anyone to take medicines that does not belong to them or every take too much medicine.
- The second concern is that we wanted Curls to understand that we wanted her to take the allergy medicine because we believe it would help her feel better. By not taking the medicine, she is not able to receive the positive intended benefit.
Shame and guilt can produce some crazy outcomes, one of the most common being that we try to hide our struggles, our transgressions, our weaknesses. If left to its own, I believe that unaddressed shame will destroy families.
As I reflect on moments like this, I hope I handle these types of conversations well in the moment (with love and grace). And I hope I am open to seeing gaps. Gaps in being an example. Gaps in sharing knowledge. Gaps in Dad talks.
Sometimes our kiddos just don't know how to do what we are asking of them. When someone does not take action in the way we expect, we need to ask two questions.
- Does the person understand the "why" of our request? Why is it important? Why is it life changing? Why does it matter?
- Does the person understand "how" to accomplish the task, no matter how big or how small? Do our kiddos need for us to provide more information? Do our kiddos need us to show them the way? Do our kiddos need more time to explore this situation on their own before coming to a conclusion?
Over the last few days, I have been helping Curls with learning how to swallow her allergy meds. We have been taking some plastic ups (ones that have the little edges on them) and gently placing the pill on the edge. Curls has been practicing letting the water take the pill into her mouth and naturally swallowing.
There have been some funny moments during this practice time. Curls often finds the pill is still in her mouth, and she has been less than thrilled about the awful test. She has spewed water on the floor on a couple of occasions. But day by day, she has been getting closer to the goal.
Guess what? Today she swallowed the medicine for the first time without me.
I hurt that she felt like she needed to hide this from us. But I rejoice that she has overcome her fear and her shame.
I want to hear from you.
- Do you have any tips for other parents to help their kiddos learn to swallow pills?
- Have you every ben faced with a situation with your children that ended up being rather harmless?
Thanks for stopping by!