When I walked into Trystan’s classroom, his teacher was walking him in from the playground to be disciplined. Though you couldn’t tell from Trystan’s face. He was hanging on her arm like a monkey, and gave a huge smile when he saw me.
“Trystan is having a lot of trouble listening today. He hit one of the other students with his hand and then hit the same student with his pillow and blanket. He also kept sliding down the slide on his belly when I told him not to.”
She released the little chimp who ran over to give me a hug. I hugged him and then looked him in the eye.
“Trystan.” I said, “Why are you in trouble?”
“Did you hit somebody?”
Silence, but his chin started to tuck into his chest.
“Look at me buddy.” I continued as he tried to find something else in the room to look at, “Remember what Daddy told you?”
“Who do we not hit?”
Trystan, “hmm” his bottom lip had stuck out and his eye brows scrunched together in the middle.
I continued, “Our friends and our family.”
“Why did you hit your friend?”
“Do you understand me?”
“We can either talk about this now, or talk about it later. Why did you hit your friend?”
“Okay then, let’s talk about this later. Let’s go home.”
Trystan was quiet on the whole car ride home and so was I. This was his first time getting in trouble at school and I was trying to figure out how to deal with it. By the time we got home he was a different kid. He was scared, fidgety and had even more trouble listening. Which of course made me even more mad. It was one thing after another. Boy I really wanted to spank this kid by the end of the day, I threatened to do so, and almost did. He just couldn’t win.
He just couldn’t win…
The thought throbbed in my head like a bulge with birds tweeting around it. I am currently listening to the audiobook 48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller and Trystan reminded me of one of the examples. There was a man who was a living country song. He lost his wife, lost his job, lost the house and was on the slippery slope to the bottom. People have a “win” tank. When we sustain so many losses the “win” tank becomes depleted and we continue on the slippery slope of losing. We need to score some wins. Set a goal and win it. It doesn’t have to be a great accomplishment, just something to turn the momentum; take a walk around the block every morning, pray for 10 minutes a day, read a book, write a blog, do the dishes, clean the house, sing a song at karaoke. Start getting accomplishments under your belt to turn the tide until the momentum of wins trample over the loses.
So, pick it up then Trystan! Start listening to me so I can start giving you rewards instead of punishments! But it doesn’t work that way for kids. The internal part does, but the external doesn’t. Just like how children can’t work for and buy their own bodily food, parents also have to supply them with the opportunities to win. Well, I was too emotionally spent and needed my own wins to do this successfully. So when Shelly got home, I let her take over until her motherly love, her nurturing embraces and heart lifting kisses can fill his little win tank. I stayed in the kitchen while Shelly got the kids ready for bed.
I scored some of my own wins to fill up my tank by working on a job application, cleaning the dining room, and washing the dishes. I made sure that these were actual accomplishments and tried to avoid the false-medication of leveling up my character on the xBox, or loitering on Facebook.
Finally, with the kids ready for bed and both of our win tanks full. I went into their room and got down on one knee so that I was at eye level with Trystan. “Buddy,” I said to my smiling boy, “Can I give you a hug?”
He gives me a hug and I hug him back.
“You are such a good boy, and you make me so proud.”
“Thank you, Daddy.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too Daddy.”