My journey over the past few years to a more peaceful and intentional way of parenting has had many surprises and challenges. It has provided me with
Yesterday my son Jayden (10) came into the kitchen and said in a very serious voice, "Mum you better come and take a look at this". Uh oh. Words of that sort is never a good thing. A myriad of scenarios went through my mind from poo on the walls to feathers from a duvet all over the room and everything in between. You know likely scenarios when you have kids. He lead me into his room and pointed to his sister, Sophie (4) colouring in her dolls face with bright coloured pastels (aka face paint).
If you look closely you can see they even have masks around their eyes!!
Past Parent-Me: "What the hang do you think you are doing? You should know that we draw on paper and not on dolls! Now look at them, totally ruined. That is just plain naughty. I can't believe you would do something so stupid! What the hang am I going to do now? Ahhhhhh!
.......and so on and so on! Reads pretty awful and it sounds even worse but that is how I would of reacted and how a lot of parents still react to situations. I say this because I have heard it many times in loads of different situations. But this isn't about them its about me. For many many years I was guilty of reacting like the above and that makes me sad. I would see the little girl and her eyes tearing up, yet I still wouldn't be able to stop. I would of totally missed what was actually going on or happening. Totally missed the moment in my anger. Not to mention I more than likely would of felt bad and guilty for reacting like that, felt a failure as a parent/mother/person AND I just know I would of had to apologise to her. And who likes to do that! But fast forward to few years to yesterday and the scene played out like this!
Present Day Parent - Me: "Oh. pause BIG breath in. Sophie, what are you doing?
Sophie: looking at me with her big smiling eyes Um colouring in her face.
Me: Yes I see that. Why are you doing that?
Sophie: We are playing dolls and they are super-heroes and I am making her a mask on her face. See?
Me: on closer inspection Oh I see. I actually thought it looked pretty cool. She looks like a Ninja Turtle now.
Sophie: Kaitlyn did hers too!
Me: Right, so even though we have super-hero dolls, what are we going to do about the drawing on the dolls because drawing on dolls isn't ideal
Sophie: It might wash off?? Yes you can wash it later.
Me: Well you might have to help me wash it.
Sophie: Yeah but later we are playing now
I think you get the general idea. I know that if I had taken one look at what she was doing and flew off the handle like I had done for all those years, I would of missed out on her explanation, the display of her imagination, totally shut down her creativity and how proud she sounded and made her feel ashamed. Yes yes I know many of you will think that drawing on dolls will be seen as naughty and not looking after toys/disrespectful. But I now know that she didn't set out to do something naughty, but to create something she needed and I actually thought it was pretty darn neat. And the problem was easy fixed too. Soap and water!
So the problem (drawing on dolls) was still there and still had to be dealt with regardless of how I was going to react. Now I (try) choose to leave my dignity intact, to come up another level as a parent and as a person. I am not perfect, still have moments where I react just like a big baby but moments like that are getting further apart - fortunately. Phew!!
I know that this will REALLY stretch some people boundaries in their thinking. Maybe you are thinking I am completely bonkers! That's OK - a lot of people do. But stretching our boundaries is good, especially when it challenges you. Isn't that how we learn? I know that we all want to have deep and loving relationships with our children.
Let me ask you, if you were Sophie, how would you have liked me to react?