Jul 3, 2005

The Growler

7/03/2005 — cori
I'm afraid my precious middle child and I are not connecting. I fear this primarily because of the forthcoming actions he displays on a pretty regular basis. Either he has no clue that I am speaking to him or he totally disregards my words. Either way, I am baffled because I have have no clue where he learned to growl at people when he is frustrated with them. I know children are great imitators of their parents, but it would be a false assumption to think my sweet Bennett boy picked this habit up from watching his mother handle her frustration. Granted, I am not a perfect role model and I often blow my top, but I don't recall a time where I have growled (accompanied with the 'growling face') at my children. I do remember letting out a very large sigh at one point...but I don't see how that could be confused for a growl.

How am I supposed to explain to the other mothers that "my son only growled at your child out of frustration, don't take it personally". That won't fly. I (along with my husband - who also doesn't growl) have been given the huge responsiblity of training these little people that follow us everywhere, how to become functional, contributing members of society. (I pray this happens by 18, but I have a feeling we're on the 'extended plan' with Bennett). I own more child rearing books than the library, you would think I could find an answer or explanation of how to handle a growler, or what spawns a child to growl in the first place, or the 5 steps to growl-free children. But no, the answer is not to be found. I am breaking new ground here.

And it's not like this behavior just began last week. I remember an instance when Bennett was an infant and sitting in the cart at the grocery store; a sweet lady came up to admire him when all of the sudden a loud grumbling sound starts coming out of no where and when I look down to my sweet baby, I see the 'growl look' on his face and notice that the sound we all just witnessed was my child growling at the nice lady. The lady looked at me with disdain and said, "Did your son just growl at me?". How was I to respond? I was lost for words. No mom is prepared for a moment such as this. It was obvious to me that he just was't in the mood to be looked at. But I still had to figure out a way to explain this nicely to the lady and also apologize.

When the growling happens at home, which I've come to find out is actually quite frequent, Gavin just growls right back at him (from what he's told me). Somehow, they have a system they've worked out. However, this system only involves gutteral sounds and no words. Not that I haven't repeatedly told my little sweethearts 7 or 12 times that 'when you're frustrated with your brother you need to use your words to tell him - don't growl'. I can just see it now...Bennett in college, trying to assimilate in with the rest of society, someone accidently pushing Bennett's buttons and then - the growl! I will then be summoned before some board on bad parenting techniques or they might try to invoke retro-active consequences for parents who didn't teach their children how to handle frustration adequately enough. They may as well charge me for failing to teach him proper potty training while their at it. Actually, come to think of it, that's probably where this whole growl thing must have originated. I can actually see how I might have accidently let out a growl or two in the midst of the 3 years of potty training duty Bennett and I went thru together. Now it's all making perfect sense....

I guess all that to say, if my son ever growls at you please:
1. take 3 steps back, slowly
2. make a funny face at him (this works every time)
3. be patient with him and show him grace.

As with all of us, God isn't finished with him yet. For him, right now, it's learning how to handle frustration without growling. As for me, I'm still in the process of learning how to handle my frustration on a daily basis. I'm just glad we have a wonderful loving environment (family) to learn these lessons in.

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