Jacey and I on a bike ride – me in front, Jacey riding behind me…
Jacey: Mom, I want to ride along side you on the sidewalk.
Me: I don’t think there is enough room….I don’t want us to hit each other….by the way, you were riding side by side with your friend in front of the house today – you were pretty close to hitting each other!
Jacey: There’s enough room! We won’t hit each other!
Me: OK (while nodding my head).
Jacey: There’s plenty of room, see (as she rides up next to me)….
Me: I do see, but I don’t feel comfortable with you there - I am going to ride behind you – go ahead in front of me.
Jacey: OK, but there is plenty of room – I can ride along side my friends if I really want to.
Me: Alright (while nodding my head).
1 minute later:
Jacey: Whoa, I just moved my wheel back and forth and there isn’t a lot of room on this sidewalk.
Mom: I agree.
Jacey: It’s like super tight on the sidewalk!
Mom: I agree - it definitely feels that way.
Jacey: I fit on this sidewalk, but if there were two it would be tight! If I ride next to someone, I could totally hit them if I fall over.
Mom: That’s true.
Jacey: I know, right? Now I’m going to beat you home…
This conversation necessitates breathing and watching.
Not watching Jacey, but watching myself.
Between each line I feel something (frustration, annoyance), but I have to create space between my feeling and my response.
It’s like being in slow motion, a true practice in being present, a moving meditation.
I want her to listen to me (I’m the parent, I’m right!). I want her to agree and do what I say. I want her to “respect” me and not “talk back”.
But that’s not respect, that’s control.
I can offer a suggestion, but I can’t force her to do it. I can share my feelings, but I can’t force her to agree. But if I can share with love and detach from how she receives and processes it, she will hear me.
And then I can let go of needing to be “right”.
If I want her to hear me, I need to hear her. If I want her to listen to others, I need to role model real listening.
Not always easy.
But it’s always a choice. And it’s not about her, what she says, or what she does. It’s only about me - my response.
My response is what could take it one way (calm) or another (a blow up).
And making the choice is not easy. It’s a practice. Sometimes the space between the feeling and the response is just too small, and I respond in a way I don’t like.
But that’s why it’s a practice.
I can always begin again. Let go of what just happened and breathe.
And then make a different choice next time.