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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Learning to be quiet and generous

I've been really exhausted ever since I got up this morning. By lunch time, I was so wishing to go to bed. There was one problem: my oldest (3.5 yo) boy doesn't get tired until 2 pm. I told Matthew that we were all going to bed after lunch, and he protested saying that he wanted to stay up and play. Normally I would have had him obey me and go to bed whether he was tired or not. However, I decided to strike a deal with him today. I told him that if he could keep quiet and play downstairs, then he could stay up while the rest of us would nap upstairs. He agreed.

After putting the two younger ones down, I reminded Matthew again to be quiet while we sleep. I limited him to only playing with the train and reading on his own. But before I headed up to bed, the following conversation ensued:
Matthew: "Is it okay to play with the puzzle?"
Me: "Yes." (since it's downstairs in the playroom)
Matthew: "Is there anything else I can play with?"
Me: "You can play with those toys there."
Matthew: "Is it ok to play with the fire engine?"
Me: "Yes, but you can't make any noise with that fire engine."
Matthew: "I won't, I'll be quiet. I'll go to sleep in a little bit."
Me: "If you get tired, just go and lie down by yourself."
Matthew: "Should I go potty again?"
Me: "Only if you need to."
Matthew: "I'll go again because I don't want to pee in my pants."
I napped and got up to find that Matthew had obeyed. I was so impressed. His bedroom door was closed and when I went downstairs, I found the play room to be fully intact. He didn't make a mess! He did play with the puzzle, with one fully assembled all by himself.

When he finally woke up from his nap, I told him that I was very proud of him for being quiet and not waking anyone up. He went on to tell me that he went potty by himself and he peed really quietly. However, he admitted that he did talk, but very quietly. I had no idea when he went to bed which meant he was telling the truth. I was so impressed with him that I told him that I was going to give him some M&M candies as a reward. When asked how many he wanted, he said two. After handing him two, he realized the amount was a bit scanty so he asked for two more. I'm thinking, "That's all??? This kid can ask for any amount and he's only asking for two and then two more???" So I decided to be generous and gave him ten. He was very happy indeed.

Shortly thereafter, his brother woke up. Of course after seeing Matthew eating M&M's, he wanted some too. Because this was Matthew's reward, I didn't ask him to share with his brother. Yet Matthew, all on his own, gave Andrew one. I was so happy to see that. We've been trying to teach our kids to be generous and to share with one another. They don't often eat M&M's and it's a very rare treat. Because the two boys are close in age, Matthew often sees (and treats) Andrew as a threat to his possessions and yummy treats. This incident was extraodinary. I am indeed proud of him.