“Get your penis off the furniture” is not a sentence I have ever expected to say. But when Little Chick decides he wants to feel the fresh air around his genitals I politely remind him that pants have a purpose and that no one wants to see his willy or sit where it has been. The past few weeks I have noticed how many of the things I say are so unexpected to me. Some are baffling (see above), some require explanation (again, see above). Some are the result of my own upbringing. Lately, I’ve experienced the realisation that I suddenly sound like my own parents, especially my mother.
This really shouldn’t come as a surprise. Eventually we model (at least some of) the behaviour we experienced as children, and this extends to speech. Our adoption preparation dedicated a significant amount of time to exploring this: considering how we were raised and how that might influence us as parents.
But it has shocked me all the same. Currently, I’m reflecting on what my parents said to me, as well as how they said it. The school holidays are catching up with me and my patience has taken a beating. I worry that my speech is suffering because of this. Drawing on my long-term mantra, I try to remember to THINK before I speak. Before opening my mouth, I ask if what I am about to say meets the following criteria. Is it:
I believe this is important with everyone, but especially with Little Chick. Overtiredness has led to a few careless words this summer. It has shown me that the positive affirmations need to be repeated multiple times, even hundreds of times, before they are processed and believed, but negative slights are swallowed up whole and immediately fuel Little Chick’s toxic shame.
Above all, I need to be kind with my words. That’s not to say I can’t correct Little Chick if he makes a mistake or misbehaves. But I need to think and parent therapeutically, remembering connection before correction.
I realise this post is a bit of a muddle. It seems to go in one direction before exploring something differently entirely; only ever scratching the surface. But that’s where my head is right now. And I think that’s where Little Chick’s head is too. We are both dysregulated and out of sorts. We both need kindness and patience. We both need me to think before I speak. We both need me to say what we expect me to say. We both need that consistency and reliability. We crave it.