"We are going to sit here in SILENCE for two minutes"
"Mama is grumpy, short tempered and CAN NOT TOLERATE ANY MORE NOISE!!!"
My children stared at me in semi-silence. Their beautiful faces cast in bemused wonderment. I closed my eyes but could feel their unabashed joy and childishness begin to bubble over their genuine attempts to remain quiet.
"Okay, now I want you to sing, that will cheer us up" My instruction must have seemed ridiculous but they began a simple serenade.
'Way up high in the apple tree,
Two little apples smiling at me.
I shook that tree as hard as I could
and down came the apples and mmm they were good'
The plan worked, I could feel my tension begin to fade. Their voices were so small and lovely, wobbling and wavering around the simple tune, and then the giggling. Such an infectious, beautiful sound. I couldn't help but join in and soon the grumpy, monster mama was gone and we were all smiling and singing together.
I came into the kitchen later and saw this little message on my refrigerator. I put it there months ago and once in a while it seems to jump out at me, knowing somehow that in a particular moment I need this reminder.
Be Careful of rules for your children.
Rules diminish responsibility.
Be careful of rewards for your children.
Rewards diminish self esteem.
Be careful of punishments for your children.
Punishments diminish trust.
Let lessons be imposed by the nature of things,
not by your own agendas or your own needs.
Integrity will replace rules.
Contentment will replace striving.
Spirituality will replace religion.
Songs will replace arguments.
Dances will replace battles.
~William Martin, The Parents Tao Te Ching
Sometimes parenting feels like a battle. There is no dancing, no singing, just hour after hour of me wrestling my children's behaviour. I realise though, that usually I cause this battle, not by consistent, gentle, firm parenting, but by demands, orders and spatting. When I let lessons be taught by the nature of things and respond instead of react, the days flow smoothly and I don't find myself at a 'boiling over' point.
My personal reminder this week:
Replace the battles with dancing and just love them.