I have a major flaw. I think it actually is at the root of most of my problems. I'm a total instant gratification junkie! I mean when you think about it, instant gratification is really "Not wanting to put in the work." So, does that actually mean that my biggest problem is that I'm lazy? I don't know if I want to ponder that particular question right now but I do know that everywhere I look, nowadays, the question of instant gratification vs. investment in the future is staring back at me.
The two areas of my life that dominate the entries of this blog speak directly to this point. With my weight, the battle between having a piece of cake or exercising for an hour is the question of do I enjoy this momentary deliciousness or do a spend a little more time, energy and will power investing in my body. Likewise, when I'm dealing with my son the battle is do I try to force him to be obedient because I'm ready for him to just listen to me and do what I say because I'm freaking tired from working all day and don't want to explain why mommy needs you to eat your vegetables OR do I invest in the future of my son's health habits by instructing him now about the benefits of veggies.
I must admit that I really believe in investment in the future, especially in my son's future. I still remember one of the first parenting arguments that I had with his father was because he thought the Bboy just needed to listen to what he was told to do. This, mind you, was when Bboy was like one an a half but because he could already talk quite articulately, his father believed that he should know better (that's a subject for another entry.) So, my argument (after I told him how ridiculous it was to expect a one year old to know what we expect from him...oh dang...ok I'm focused)...my argument was that I wanted him to KNOW how and why to do the right thing and not just do it because I said so. My thinking is that, I'm not always going to be around to tell him and he is going to be the one making decisions and will need to be armed with the knowledge and ability to solve his own dilemmas. So, I really do believe in investment.
You knew it was coming right? The big BUT. It's really not a but, it's more of a lame excuse as to why I have been giving into instant gratification discipline practices. I think it's the reason that we all do: parenting is an overworked/underpaid profession! Sometimes I just need my son to do what the hell I tell him to do because dammit! I told him to.
Can I share something with you though? Even though that's what I would appreciate sometimes, I think that my son would be squashing some of his best traits. He's not a just go along with you cause you say so type of guy, not even at 3 1/2. He's determined and opinionated and logical; his critical thinking skills amaze me. He wants to know why and if it makes sense to him then he does it without a problem--usually. He doesn't react fast, transitions are a problem for him, so I have to make sure that I give him warning that we're about to switch it up so he won't get bent outta shape. He doesn't like to be yelled at and started telling me so when he was bout two (Mommy, i don't like it when you yell at me.) When someone is aggressive toward him, he reciprocates--especially with me. Physical punishment just makes him more resistent, with me. He knows how he feels about things and can articulate it clearly AND he wants his feelings acknowledged. He advocates for himself and he does it well. Just this evening, his dad was trying to tell him he didn't need anymore pizza because he had given himself a stomach ache earlier--which Bboy had complained about. Well, Bboy said he didn't have a stomach ache and his dad said that he did. Bboy calmly told his father, "You don't know. You're not Baraka, so you don't know if I have a stomach ache." There was no disrespect, it was merely a statement of fact. And damn, if he ain't right!
I remember telling a co-worker, friend and fellow mommy blogger (she has a amazing blog--MAMA KNOW IT ALL and has truly been my blogging mentor) when Bboy was not even a year that I was going to have to figure out how to balance disciplining him and making sure that he maintained his confidence and energy and determination.
It's a struggle that I've had all this time but the answer has come because I've started to invest in my own future, even when it is easier to reach for the yummy deliciousness. There are a lot of things that make investing difficult like patience, trust that your making the right choice and/or doing it the right way, ridicule or just the fear of ridicule from others who did it differently (no judgement here), time, fear, stress, competence and your own abilities, and commitment, especially when the results aren't immediate.
A few weeks ago, I made a firm commitment to myself that I was going to make an investment in my son's future and not just hope for instant gratification. For me, it's very pracicial. We do better when I use discipline strategies that invest in my son's future and not my present. So, I'm in instant gratification rehab. Anyody out there need to join me?