Today the Wallaces headed to Wrightwood for the day to play in the snow. L.A's recent El Nino storm turned the local mountain town into Narnia and Jonathan will soon post pictures of our magical day. For now, Xan is in the bath, Noli is reading, Jonathan is the making turkey chili and I am reflective.
For the car ride to the snow Xan brought along "Family Talk," a set of cards with questions that promote conversation. Each of us answered questions like "what kind of dog would you be" and "who was your favorite teacher" and "what kind of compliment is most meaningful to you." My favorite was "what is something you do that inspires others to be better people?" The kids struggled with that one and I realized my resolution for 2016 is to get them involved with volunteering. Helping others is always inspiring.
But they also struggled with another one: "What one thing would you change about your parents?" As a parent I am pretty clear about my deficiencies. I know what I would change about myself as a mom. But the kids couldn't think of anything. Xan knew in a millisecond that if he was a dog he would be a Pug and Magnolia knew with certainty her favorite teacher is Mr. Velasquez but neither could tell Jonathan and I what they would change about us. I told them, "I know what I would change about me." What, they asked in unison, honestly interested. I would be more patient.
If I could change one thing about my parenting, I would be more patient with them. Because they are only little beings...with such capacity to infuriate. I have said before that if I got a tattoo it would be a small "patience" near my left thumb so I could press it with my right thumb when I am losing it.
Losing patience is common practice amongst parents. When my parents lost it with me I didn't understand that it was because they had asked me to do something, or not do something, about a million times BEFORE they actually raised their voices or lost their shit. I didn't realize I was the instigator, I just thought they were kind of nuts...and scary. So in the car ride to Wrightwood I was shocked that my kids didn't think I was kind of nuts...and scary. I was surprised that they didn't want to change my lack of patience in parenting.
But I also know that they do notice it. After a play-date Xan commented offhandedly that I am nicer when his friends are around. I don't lost patience in front of people. When I first had Xan I read Parenting Magazine and one of the things that stuck was if you are really irritated with your kids, you should take them to a public place. Go to a park or the library or even on a walk. Be around people and you won't yell. You just won't.
So even though I know Xan notices, the fact that patience wasn't top of mind made me realize that we are actually doing a good job with this parenting thing. Maybe you'll think, of course you are...but if you are an honest parent you know that sometimes you really do feel like you might be messing it all up. Even when you are taking them up to the snow to tromp in Narnia and sled down hills and have a snowball fight and build a snowman and top it all off with hot chocolate, you think maybe you might be messing them up.
When we got home, I watched a short video posted on FB about how everything vibrates on a frequency. At the end the guy says, "you can control the vibration you are in." You have a choice in between what happens and your reaction to what happens to decide what vibration to bring to the situation. It resonated with the kids and Nolia chanted "you can control the vibration you are in! You can control the vibration you are in!" as I brushed her hair after bath. Xan got it too, he knows that molecules vibrate. It's scientific. The idea that you can control vibration, and decide to make it positive, intrigued them both.
So if I know what I would change about my parenting (even if the kids haven't figured it out yet) and there is space between an action and reaction and my vibration is in my control, then maybe I know my second resolution for the new year. Control the vibration I am in. In the space before reaction vibrate on the positive so that when Xan and Noli play the Family Talk game with their kids they still won't have an answer to what they would change about me.
A Bit About Me
I am Tenaya, a communications strategist and public speaker telling stories that connect, inspire...and laugh.