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August 2, 2010 / MrsH

A Compliment

My in-laws are great and I love them dearly.  However, it still feels stressful when our children aren’t behaving “well” during family dinners with them.  Having my parenting skills on display never feels great and I never quite know how they feel about our choices.

This past weekend we had dinner with the in-laws again.  MrH and his dad watched the kids while Uncle worked and the women got their hair cut.  About an hour after we made it back to SIL’s house, my guys had this fight.  I think it was a doll baby carriage, and about who got to push it.  So they pushed each other; go figure.  At first I silently freaked, thinking about how I hate this moment and didn’t want to stop my conversation to deal.  But then I remembered our plan.  Could I implement it here, with my father-in-law on the couch, closely observing my next move?

It took 15 minutes, during which I repeatedly had to ask the Middle One to come sit with us to keep finding a solution, and even had to ask the cousins to give us some privacy.  All well outside my comfort zone.  And suddenly it was done.  The storm had subsided, they’d said sorry, forgiven each other, and it helped that a doll stroller had become available as well.  They went off and played, and when Middle One asked his big sister a few minutes later whether he could have a turn now, she didn’t even blink as she said “sure, here you go!” and ran off to play with something else.

While I still focused on this taking 15 minutes, my FIL said the sweetest thing: “I’m really impressed.  I’ve seen you handle these things before, and I’m really impressed with how you handled this.”  I share this not to self-aggrandize, but because it was a tough and vulnerable moment.  I learned that sticking with our parenting plans is a good policy, no matter who is watching.

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