I just got back from my first exam of the summer quarter. Surprisingly, considering the minimal time I was able to study, I think I got mostly everything correct. Jamie worked all weekend so I was with the kids. We had baseball games both days, couple fun parties to attend and then I was going to finally get to get some quiet study time in last night. The unpredictability of my kids led to a drastically different evening, and a far cry from anything quiet.
We got home from all of our activities and it was time to put on a movie for the kids and sit down to my dining room table, which is now also my school desk, to dig into some Anatomy & Physiology. The kids were having a hard time coming to an agreement about what movie to watch and so I calmly stepped in.
"If you guys can't get along and choose together, I am going to narrow it down for you," I butted in. "You can choose from North, Whale Rider or Children of Heaven." I choose these because they are all pretty wholesome movies that offer some kind of learning or insight into life, something I think my children could use.
|those three loveable little life lessons.|
All hell broke loose.
"How could you? We hate those movies!"
"You are SO mean."
"Why are you trying to ruin my life?"
"Why doesn't anything ever go my way?"
"You don't understand me at all!!!"
"I hate my life and I am going to kill myself!"
"We don't want to learn anything about life!"
"I hate you!!!"
All of these accusations and upsets were hurled at me from every child and every direction. Accompanied with lots of intense crying and screaming and wailing. Someone walking by must have thought I was abusing my children in here. No, world outside my open window, I was simply offering them a movie.
What is wrong with them? How completely entitled? How dare they yell at me like that. I was not going to budge. They could yell and scream all they wanted, but I was not giving in. In an attempt to inspire some thoughtfulness, I asked them if they could ever imagine other kids talking their parents that way.
"Yea, well, it's because those kids are afraid of their parents. You should be glad we aren't afraid of you."
"Um, thank you? What?!" I thought to myself as I felt more and more like I was taking crazy pills. (Zoolander reference)
Tallulah escaped they craziness by getting in the shower, her happy place. I finally said to the older two that I needed space, and I too, stepped into the now steamy bathroom. Some deep breaths followed as I stared into the mirror wondering what has become of my life. It was then that our first "William Blake" moment of the evening emerged. (In reference to a couple lines from my poem I memorized...."Under every grief and pine, runs a joy of silken twine.")
Levi knocked and asked to enter. He was calm and self-possessed, so I obliged.
"Mama, I was thinking, maybe we need to set a goal. Like in school, we set goals and then we know what we are working toward. So, if we can be good and not fight and not yell at you and listen to everything you say for like a month, then maybe we can all go somewhere together," He offered this 9 year old sage advice to my now open ears.
"We could go to Wolf Lodge, that water park place," I said, getting excited at the prospect of his offer and the promise of going to a hotel.
Levi continued, "I'm sorry Mama, but I think we just aren't used to behaving that way yet, but once we do it for a month it will become a habit and we'll be more used to it. And then we can be more like Charlie's family." (Levi just made a new friend on his all-star team and our impression is that their family is civilized and kind to each other.)
I have to say I was not only impressed with his composure, but with his insight as well.
Next Tallulah started freaking out over..um, I can't remember what now. But, as luck would have it, this freak-out also led to another "William Blake" moment. Lily was trying to help me calm her, and when saw just how irrational Tallulah was being, she looked to me thoughtfully and shared her "silken twine" of the evening.
"Mom, now I can see how I was acting earlier. I am thinking about how much of a brat Tallulah is being and that's how I was acting to you. I am so sorry. It is just really hard once I am in that space to think about how I am acting. I love you so much, Mama," she shared as she walked toward me with her arms open wide.
Wow. So, I am thinking that sometimes, as difficult and embarrassing as it may be, those disastrous family moments can lead to some powerful self reflection. Even for my 9 and 11 year old kids. I can hear some people I know thinking that the kids were manipulating me, but I disagree. They didn't get what they wanted in the end. And I can only hope that them not being afraid of me does offer them the space and time to figure these life lessons out, to talk to me about them, and to know they are loved no matter what.
I didn't study at all last night, I just crashed in bed, exhausted and oddly pleased with life itself.
Man was made for joy and woe
And when this we rightly know,
Through the world we safely go.
Joy and woe are woven fine
A clothing for the soul divine,
Under every grief and pine,
Runs and joy of silken twine.