Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"On A Scale Of One To Five,..."

I created this visual mood scale for my boys recently. It's quite helpful for them (especially Sullivan who tends to have more of a fluctuation in moods) to see where they're at, list where they're at, and express where they want to be.

A "brief" background: THE DAMN PAIN SCALE 1-10 smiley faces in the hospital. I hate those things. I'm not a numbers type person anyways, and I have the type of personality where if asked how I'm feeling physically, I'll play the tough guy and claim it's not as bad as it may really feel. So realistically, I'm cheating myself out of good medication on the 1-10 thing when visiting the hospital. I don't want to appear as a weakling so I'll never say 10. During my gallbladder attacks I agreed to settle on 8. During my c-sections I was a 5 because I was on pain meds and in the glory of my newborns. It's not the hospitals fault they have a person like me that analyzes and picks apart everything until its turned inside and out and upside and down. Still, there are so many people like me, and I'm guessing they have the same thoughts on the pain scale smiley face charts too.

Plus, how do I know what's worse if I've never had worse then what I'm having at that very moment? Perhaps if I was more of a negative person it would always be the worst. I'd have the highest level of pain each and every time. But what if what I feel is worse, isn't as worse for the patient behind curtain number 2? How can someone treat pain on a scale when pain is measured differently based on ones own personality?

Hence the very reason I cannot stand the hospital pain scales. Maybe they should give you a multiple choice to go along with it, or at least give you some captions relating to pain, as I have done on the mood scale.

So why am I making my sons do the very same thing only in regards to emotions? Because I can.
My sons are fully aware that it's okay to feel different things based on different situations affecting them. They know I don't expect them to constantly be a Five. That's not why I'm doing this. I don't want them to feel as though they're supposed to always say 5 because it's positive, or because I made the chart. However, if they always say that they're a 5 and are always positive, always forgiving, not dwelling and holding grudges, always smiling, then they can be 5.

I want them to learn how to see what their options are, and to compare it with how they're feeling at that exact moment. If it's not where they feel they should be, they can see how to get back to that place.

They know that being a 3 is perfectly fine. They know that it's important however to try and always be better then a 2 or 1. When there are the meltdown moments and they are crying out defensive tears about how their brother always bothers them, or how angry they are about how their brother can go outside and play but they cannot, naturally they're going to be at a 1 or 2. They know that. They feel it with their tantrums.

Our goal, what we're teaching them is to be better then someone that carries a grudge and refuses to get over the fact that their little brother played with their Lego figure three weeks ago. That it's okay to get pissed, but that they must learn how to manage that anger, determine if it's worth it and figure out how to get back to where they should be.

It's not acceptable for them to throw a toy across the room in anger over rules that we give them. When that happens they're escorted over to the mood scale and shown where we see them at based on how they're acting out.(Yes they still have punishments but they do have to face the mood chart about 80% of the time.) We tell them that it's okay to get mad, but how you manage it is what needs to be worked on. We tell them that we know they're going to not like the rules, but the rules are the rules and they are asked only once to leave the 1 or 2 status and at least get to 3. I truly hope that we're teaching them to accept frustrations and disappointments and hurts, but to learn how to manage it and not let it run your forever.

The long term goal, ideally, is for us to teach them that when they express anger, when they have a fight with their brother over whatever the current issue may be, when they carry grudges over rules or differences; not only are they hurting the people they're mad at, but they're showing everyone involved that they haven't yet accomplished the tools of mood management, forgiveness and understanding.

They are products of their parents after all, and naturally we cannot make our kids be something they're not. However, they can all learn those important and very necessary tools in order to navigate through life. I hope that instead of the nightmares that they may have of the mood scale in the future, they'll someday find themselves in their twenties jokingly chatting about when Mom used to say, "Jackson, Sullivan, Benjamin, you're all at a 1 right now, how are you going to get back to a 3? Is it worth your time to continue to be a 1 when something good is waiting for you around the corner involving someone you care about?" Lucky for them they have two parents that prefer not to stay angry for very long.

They see us get annoyed with each other. They see us get pissed. They see us fight and bicker. They see us forgive. They witness us talking about what made us arrive to the mood scale status of number 1 or 2 in the first place. They see us accepting others for who they are, no matter that we're all wired differently. They see us being ourselves, and they see us accepting ourselves for what we are despite what the world may try to do to alter that. They see us respecting each others weaknesses, understanding that we cannot possibly all have the same flaws, and even though we all have our occasional tantrums rendering us to a immediate mood status of 1 or 2, we don't take it personal for too long. We get ourselves back to at least a 3 quickly because it's just not worth being a 1 or 2 all the time. They see our misunderstandings and how we move forward from it. Moving on from it, just as they themselves show remorse later on that night after pulling their brothers hair after breakfast, but they also see and act as though it's not being held against them. Nor is it brought up later on for future ammunition.

Okay, well, maybe they can't see all all of that yet, but they will someday...
Mark My Words.

How was your St.Patty's Day?
This was the 6:00am start to my very delicious corn beef and cabbage with potatoes, carrots, garlic and special top secret ingredients to trick my sons into thinking they were eating something left under a rainbow.

This is the bagel that I sent Jackson to school with for his morning snack. He was so excited to have seen the cream cheese green because it had to have meant after all, that he'd been touched by a leprechaun and would have good luck. Because that's what happens when you wear green. He is fully aware that he's one of the lucky ones. Naturally he was touched by a leprechaun. Its the only logical reason why his bagel that had white whipped cream cheese on it when he left for school, turned into a lucky green. When he asked to see the inside of the cream cheese after he came home from school, we couldn't believe that it was still the same white whipped cream cheese as it was when I smeared it on his bagel. Imagine that!
Jackson was touched with green luck this year, very cool.

I was in my normal slippers. This was first thing this morning after a mile walk with Marina. My legs hurt so much I didn't feel like slipping off my socks.
These are pictures of my little ones taken at the beginning of this month, before their most recent haircuts. So I'm thinking it was around the end of the month of February and beginning of March as I always set out my St. Patty's Day stuff after Brian's birthday.

Marina 4months. As of this past Saturday she weighs 31.6lbs.

Jackson all gums. His two front teeth are coming in and he is in that "all gum funny face I don't want to smile," smile phase.

Jackson and Marina before school that same day as picture above.

He does his own hair, and I am okay with that, in fact I think it's adorable.

When Jackson had gone to a sleepover on a Saturday to a Sunday, Sullivan had a rough time dealing with the fact that he wasn't invited. He had a few number 1 moments during that Saturday. Yet as you can see he was quick to recover as this would be Sullivan happily requesting my breakfast casserole and a shake, meanwhile hanging out with me in the kitchen, enjoying the time he had with me alone.

He's so into it but was equally waiting to delve into my casserole. So much so that he sat there from prep to bake until I served him some squares.

Sullivan likes to do things just like his big brother. One of those things is doing his own hair as well. Too cute!

Ben the ham, always posing. He's a lot like Jackson in this way. He'll pose all by himself for photo ops.

The same day, he wanted me to take a picture of him climbing onto my back. This was as best as I could do. Plus it's cute how his little teeth blend with his button nose.

He loves to wear hats and enjoys the bond he's building with Marina.

I hope you had a good St. Patty's day and I hope that if you were feeling like a 1 or 2 when you arrived here, you've left at at least a 3.

Remember this Please;
Practice having a positive attitude. Attitude matters! You can view the glass as half full or half empty, and it makes a tremendous difference. Practice gratitude as well. It will focus your attention on the positive things in your life and help you see opportunities and solutions.

Work on developing a resilient personality. Resilience is characterized by five traits:

Insight — know yourself and accept the truth and be you, flaws and all.
Adaptability — respond in creative and imaginative ways and accept others for them, flaws and all.
Responsibility — don't bother with blaming others, bringing others into your battles for an audience or wait for someone else to fix your problem.
Commitment — engage with the reality of life and commit to personal growth.
Connection — communicate with openness and clarity and avoid staying angry for too long, it'll hurt the clarity of your own self in the long run.

And when all else fails ask yourself this, "On a scale of One to Five,...."


Kathy said...

Sweet, gorgeous children!! "And their little dog, too!"

austere said...

What LOVELY photos, they;re beayoootiful and thank you thank you SO MUCH, Crusty.

Loved the scale. May I pls pls use it as my desktop picture?

Amazing skills you're teaching them. So right.

And Marina is filling up nicely, so smart she looks! :)


Kathy: naturally bedtime last night was crazy...go figure. I wish my cellphone had enough video time on it to capture the meltdowns. :)

Happy hump day!
How was your lamaze class? Do you get any people that you know are just absolutely crazy?


Austie: of course you may! Thank you for asking although you didn't have to ask.
It's working fine..and I'm trying to recall when I first started the scale (I have one in kit, bathroom, and family room) and I was wrong on it beginning in recent weeks..actually, brian told me we started it about January just after my birthday. Talk about way off.


Susan's Snippets said...

Good Morning CB -

I hope everyone survived the green day yesterday...I just barely made it - too many black and tans at a local watering place.

irish drinking race

happyone said...

What a great idea with the number and picture scale. Today I'm a 4!
Loved seeing all the pictures.
I came across this the other day and thought you might like it.
A rambunctious little boy was told by his mother to sit quietly in a chair. He grudgingly obliged, but after taking his seat he said, "I may be sitting still on the outside, but on the inside I'm still running around."

Portia said...

Beautiful pictures, every last one of them! I hate those hospital pain chart thingies too, but I love your mood meter for the boys. Will try to keep sunny side up:)


SusieQ: if you were near a lodge you may just have had a beer spilled on you by my aunt or uncle..
pub 222. :)


Happy one; I LOve that saying and it will very shortly be posted to my wall of my top favorite sayings.

are you still a four? Hope so!!! :)



P: And your meme was very cool. Do you prefer Diner food? Seinfield is planning their reunion..


Scrubs..are you ready?
SUNNY DAY! what a wonderful brother she has today. hee-hee.


Dear Liza said...

Well - I would say I am at about a 5 after reading. You are such an awesome mom, and your little guys are so adorable.

Happy Thursday E! Hugs. :)

captain corky said...

We hate the pain scale at the hospital too and I can't believe that these doctors stay in school for 10 years and the best they can come up with is, "rate you pain on a scale from 1 to 10." Very lame.

Right now I'm somewhere between a 3 and a 4. I haven't had many 1 or 2 days in a while and hopefully wont anytime soon.

captain corky said...

I'm talking about your emotions scale not the pain scale. ;)

Tink said...

You have such handsome little boys. Your chart reminds me of high school. I made this dual-sided magnet. One side had a smiley face on it and the other had a frowny face on it. I would flip it to whatever side was appropriate for my mood that day and then anyone who approached me at my locker would know what to expect. Lol.

Andrew said...

As Always, I love your blog. And the kids are growing like crazy!!!! I would send you some spring flowers if it were possible! Hang in there!

Anonymous said...

great post!! you have been so innovative with the way you teach our beautiful yet crazy boys. We are all so lucky to have you and we love you!!!!



Dear Liza: Funny you should say that. My good friend and I were just having a conversation about that today..:)
enjoy the car business.. :) I so miss it on occasion.


capt: HA! that's a good point! 10 years for them to create that? Granted it could be someone else..maybe it was created by the same jacknuckle that started all this separate billing.. you get a bill for the needle from phlembotomy (Sp) and another bill from a different company for the anesthes...
all for one visit to the hospital...forget about the separate fees for the cost of surgeon a and surgeon b.


capt: don't worry I caught that. :)

Lima beans.


Tink: I LOVE THAT! Make me one, please? L:)
what a great idea! You make them, I'll sell them and we'll drink with the profits. :)
hurricane season is approaching soon.. :)


ANdrew (and Maggie2): what matters is the fact that you thought it. :)
How excited are you for the spring thunderstorms??? :)

I had to laugh when you said "hang in there" especially since Cheryl's spent all day hanging around waiting for "Cable guy." LOL.


anfL'dodi: and you are sweet enough to remind me when you sense I need the soft support.
Even if I haven't showered for five days. LOL. Have fun at whirly ball tonight.

Al's pizza for the boys and I-- hope you're not too jealous..after all there might just be a shark sighting. lmao.

fiwa said...

I hate that pain scale thing at the hospital too. 10 means I'm dying, right? So what I'm feeling, no matter how bad, can't be anywhere near a 10. Right? Right?!

But I love your idea with the chart - and the pictures you drew are hilarious.

Yes, mamaelizabeth, I will work on being resilient, I promise. :)

The boys have such beautiful smiles. Looking at these pictures of them, they look so happy, it's hard to believe they are ever anything but 5's!

Thanks for your support this week.
Love you -

Palm Springs Savant said...

what a good idea about the rating scale, I need to pass that along to my sister in law...