We have officially entered the “Summer Routine” in our household. The fact that I am a teacher and have 4 school-aged children, one in each level of the school system, makes our days very interesting. As I usually do every Summer, I began this one with an ambitious plan, where everyone would be engaged in fun and meaningful ways and motivated to eradicate one or more “negative habits” and successfully “grow” in one or more developmentally appropriate goals.
Early on in the implementation of my plan I sensed and detected the usual resistance and realized that I was doing all the work for them; but this time I had a different interpretation of it. I realized I never involved my children in the plan. I never asked if they wanted to eradicate a negative habit, or if they wanted to grow in developmentally appropriate ways. I assumed they would want to grow (by my definition). Consequently, I retraced my steps and asked if they were interested in fulfilling my ambitious plan.
The “little league” (3 and 6 years-old) simply didn’t understand what I was trying to propose, and the “big league” (11 and 13) responded with a quick and swift, “No, were not interested.”
Luckily, I’m almost done extirpating the family inherited pattern of reactive sadness and anger that I have many times experienced and impulsively explored when my children do not see things the way I do. Frankly, it has become completely predictable and utterly boring; but most importantly, it does not move us forward into healthier and more fulfilling relationships nor is it really who I consciously want to be. Eradicating this negative pattern though, cannot be controlled in time and space. The process, its steps and the results unravel in unpredictable and fascinating ways as I consciously put time and effort in its removal and agree to the messy and experimental nature of my evolution. Why am I interfering and not letting this process occur with my own children? Won’t I be perpetuating the reactive anger and sadness-ridden pattern by not letting them be?
It is then I realize it is my goals I need to focus on, not theirs. OK. Time to explore plan B. I quickly find two negative patterns I want to eradicate and one developmentally appropriate goal I wish to fulfill. I am committed to my ambitious plan and have set the developmentally appropriate time I need as TOP PRIORITY, every day- no matter what. In a matter of minutes I feel a rare exhilaration…no, it isn’t rare, it’s called aliveness, excitement, motivation!
What a difference it makes in my role as a mentor! Having partially regained my sense of balance, I am able to observe my children in their daily doings with greater peace and discernment. I come to understand that after an entire school year of being an individual in a community of age-like learners where they have endured a myriad of challenges and hardships, accepted rewards and failures, learned new behaviors, (both good and bad), accomplished many goals while leaving others behind, inevitably waxing and waning in their independence and individuality, it is now time to re-group with family members and reconfigure relationships, modify behaviors to suit who they’ve been, who they are and who they wish to become without the pressure of “the outside expectation” and “having to perform”. They must follow their own patterns and figure out whether they are worthy of keeping or not. I can mentor and advise, but only when invited. I unconsciously attempted to speed up my 11 year-old's process to satisfy my own impatience to which she responded; “I do not need a spiritual guru, I just need you to listen!” Powerful words, I will now attempt to put in practice.
This summer has brought me the awareness that I am not in charge of my children’s (or anyone’s for that matter) evolution; I am more likely a part of it. If I willingly or unwillingly choose to halt my own advancement, I inevitably pause the development of those who are under my care.
I caught my “little leaguers” collaborating with each other to achieve their own, spur of the moment, completely self proclaimed developmentally appropriate milestones. Their unique way of approaching their goals produced unpredictable developments that brought us closer as a family. Likewise, the “bigger league” worked through their developmental differences in their own muddled and chaotic way to build a strong partnership with which to successfully combat boredom. They efficaciously hacked the parental controls on their computers in order to add more time, and hence, win an online virtual fashion show with avatars they designed the clothing for. It is not my definition of engaged, fun and meaningful, but then again, who asked me?
Yes, the process is imaginative, fanciful, original and extremely amusing. Why would I ever want to control it? I wonder how I can tie it in to the more structured school routine? The formula is to have awareness of one’s goal, put time and effort into it and remain open to the wonders it will bring.
A disfrutar del verano.