I can’t believe that another winter storm has come through last night and is hanging on this morning. No school delays as it is more like a slurpie out here than snow. This last blast reminds me that we are still in winter, and that the cold can still grip us, and yet give it all she’s got because Mother Nature will soften soon. She has too.
I think there is some correlation between the weather and winter hanging on and my hanging on to how I handle issues with the children. Last night, after the whole family watched an episode of Downton Abbey that had many interruptions by downloading delays and telephone calls, the kids started to go bed later than usual, and this is where it got interesting.
It was causing Kecia some stress because it was so late, especially since Marlo has been sick and needs her rest, and the other kids can be grumpy when they don’t get enough sleep. So I delayed Olivia downstairs while the others got started to help lessen the evening excitement and fooling around preceding lights out. That worked okay, but still Gregory and Marlo were playing basketball and laughing, both of which cause more stress in the house because they are not focusing on their task.
So I came upstairs and Gregory was just standing in the hallway laughing and telling some story. Without warning, I pushed him toward the bathroom so he could complete getting ready for bed. The push caught him by surprise and knocked the wind out of him a bit. He started to cry in the bathroom and I felt so bad. I hugged him and told him I was sorry. I am sure his feelings were hurt and my heart was surely broken.
This is where my question is. We often find ourselves in a situation where we feel like we are fighting against the tide or battling against a late winter storm when we try to get the kids to complete a task. Perhaps we are not communicating what we want, or are trying to do something that is unnatural. Maybe like the weather, we cannot stop what is happening in nature. Maybe the reason we love children is that they are unpredictable, that they have unbounded energy, that they demonstrate the joy and emotions of life without the filters and inhibitions that mark us as we get older. We, asking them to watch the show until 10pm and then get into bed quickly and quietly, might be going against the natural laws of youth and growing up. We might be trying to hold off a storm, or wishing it was spring, only to be disappointed and depressed.
This morning I again apologized to my Gregory for pushing him. I can’t go back in history, but I can use this episode to reflect on how I acted, on what I did, and the craziness I displayed in trying to bound nature.
Last night’s winter storm did not make me depressed, but oddly made me happy. I know that Spring will come and that this cold blast will fade away and I will have the last laugh as the year grows up and warmer weather comes. I’ll not let winter fool me into depression, and so I got up early and brushed the snow off the car and shoveled part of the driveway. I wore warm clothes and so the bite of winter is a mere flesh wound.
The trick is that winter’s analogy has taught me that there are other forces of nature that can’t be held back. I should embrace those as they are today, manage them the best I can, and have the last laugh as I know they too will grow up and seasons will change.
The key is to manage the youthful excitement so that all of our needs are met. Give time to let the work be done, knowing that no child has 100% focus. Don’t set yourself up for failure either by expecting the unnatural to miraculously occur. Instead, as much as possible, celebrate the joy and unfiltered emotions of these children. Unfortunately and soon enough they will self regulate and feel stress and battle the burdens of the world on their shoulders. They will relax by needing cocktails and vacations, and wishing some you had more of and some you had less of… They will wish that they could go back to the days of old, when times were easy and fun, that social security numbers and drivers license numbers and taxes were something the parents kept in their brains. My only hope is that they do in fact wish they could go back, and that as they look back to their childhoods, they see happy times where their imaginations and emotions were free. How nice if they don’t feel like they want to go back to feel better, but rather they have enjoyed it all along.