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Sunday, October 02, 2016

Roll down the windows, See past the fear and Connect my friends to Failing as Parent.

BUT THAT’S JUST HOW TEXAS IS:

I used to love spring because I got to turn off the heat and roll down the windows and ‘hear the world again’.  And smell the grass (and the mud).  And hear people chatting and dogs barking and the world just seems to come alive after being asleep all winter.

Here it’s fall when I’m finally able to shut off the AC and roll down the windows and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.  I can smell fresh cut grass, and donuts, and gun oil.  See, pretty much the same here in Texas just a little different.

BUT THAT’S JUST MY OPINION:

And now to politics.  I’m just going to say…yes I watched the debate.  Instead of letting myself totally unravel into a pit of despair and misery I will just say that both sides aren’t angels.  Both are using some sort of fear tactic whether it’s fear of Trump’s temper, and his general disgusting view of women and hispanics and blacks in particular, or of Hillary…well I’m not sure what they’re afraid Hillary is going to do but they sound really frightened about the possibility she will be president.  Something about a 'progressive agenda' which sounds a lot better than a nuclear war because China insulted his hair style.

I’m looking forward to seeing the first female president, and to showing Ellie every time Hillary comes on TV.  Is she perfect?  Of course not.  Would she be getting this much flak if she were a man?  Nope.  

Does she have a track record in politics that some may see as inconsistent?  Yep.  But she HAS a track record.  Because she’s made decisions and weighed global consequences and then gone back the next day and done it again.  For something like twenty years.  I don’t understand why people would WANT an outsider to global politics.  Kind of seems like something you should have dipped your toe into first before declaring yourself master and commander of all.  

But that’s just my opinion…

BUT MY LITTLE WEED:

I was weeding the other day, early in the morning before it got too hot and I was a little lost in the process.  A weed.  Another weed.  Three more weeds.  Pull, pull, turn and pull, dump in bucket, pull, pull.  

There’s something meditative about the repetition, about being outside in the soft morning sun.  And then a pine cone dropped from a branch high above me.  I heard it bounce between the branches and fall to the ground.  I don’t know why but it struck me as magical and amazing.  This much peace, and sort of quiet joy.  So quiet I can hear the pine cones falling.  It’s every-day magic.  A balm to the soul.  

Why did I need said balm?  Because I’ve failed as a parent, yet again. 

The day before Ellie had a total-major-crazy break-down tantrum with full high pitched screaming in the middle of a lunch date with a friend.  At a busy restaurant.  

I was mortified.  

But actually, worse than that, I was more embarrassed about my own reaction.  I can usually, USUALLY stop and focus on her and what she needs and figure it out.  

In this case, I was starving and the tantrum hit just at the wrong time (right when the waiter put my plate of carb-licious spaghetti in front of me).  So, pregnant, starving, and now my toddler is screaming her head off for no apparent reason I can deduce.  I got angry.  And impatient.  And disconnected from love.  From her.  Why is she ruining my lunch time!?

I got her calmed down eventually, distracting her with the phone but it wasn’t easy or quick.  So the next day, I’m vigorously yanking weeds and wondering where I went wrong.  

I looked around at my pumpkin plants who are showing a little yellow around the roots.  I thought…I’m not mad because the pumpkin is having trouble.  I’m not telling it to stop turning yellow, (useless) and that it’s embarrassing me in front of my friend and people I don’t know who are judging me (useless and it doesn’t care).  I’m sitting there trying to figure out what I need to do to help it thrive.  What does it need?  More water?  Is it a pest problem?  Does it need more fertilizer? 

This is how I usually try to react to Ellie when she spins off into a tantrum.  Her yellow leaved tantrums aren’t a reflection on me and my parenting ability.  She needs something and it’s my job to take my own ego out of the picture and figure it out.

I see the way some parents shut down their kids with statements like ‘you’re embarrassing me, stop crying right now or….’ etc.  These things may work in the short term but ultimately if we shut them down we’re missing out on a chance at a real connection with them.  They’re feeling, thinking, evaluating little beings who need us to get past our selves and really SEE them.

I’m not saying Ellie would have sat down and had a logical conversation with me while in high-tantrum gear - once she’s already there it’s more like…we need to wait out the emotional storm with love and patience.  I missed the steps before it, and in truth was just trying to keep her distracted so I could talk to my friend and eat.  Which is fine most of the time but that day she needed a little extra connection and she didn’t get it.  That combined with the full sugar apple juice I gave her and the fact she was tired…it was the perfect storm.

All that to say…my failure was a parent wasn’t the fact my kid had a tantrum in a public place.  It happens to EVERYONE.

It was the fact that I was disconnected from that calm, loving place inside myself that would have allowed me to connect with her and thereby diffuse the situation.  I could feel it, she could feel it.  

She felt MY anxiety and anger and impatience and was reacting to it, too.  They’re incredibly attuned to our emotions.  If you think about it, they depend on us for everything they need from food and water to affection and protection.  How sensitive would you be to the moods of someone who controlled everything you needed to survive and thrive?

To sum up... “When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you  don't blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change”   Thich Nhat Hanh