Here we are then, at the end of February half term. We all survived. Well everyone except my purse and my patience. To be fair, it hasn’t been too bad really. TM and MM apear to be becoming good play buddies. A lot of this is to do with MM reaching new milestones with his speech and understanding. It is like a beacon of light in the dark corners of parenting. Something we forget, whilst trapped in some of the stages of development like tantrums (I wonder if this stage will ever end), is that they are always changing and maybe all we can be is a compass to them. A reminder for them on how to behave in the great journey of life. One of the best things that is coming out of my running is the ability to find perspective. I have 20-30 minutes to clear my head, focus on issues that are bothering me, then go home and tackle them more effectively. A situation occured during half term which demonstrated for me that as parents we are sometimes wiser than we think. It also made me think about a story I learned as a child that makes a good lesson for parenting.
For those of you who don’t know, Solomon is a biblical character. A Hebrew King who was offered whatever he wanted by God. He decided not to ask for power or material things. You know like winning the lottery or a flashy car. He asked for wisdom. Now as a parent this is probably something I would ask for. If I had the choice between having all the money to give them anything they wanted, or the ability to know, without question, that the decisions I make, will be sound and sensible, I would always chose the latter. I’ll tell you why. Wisdom is defined as having the quality of experience, knowledge and good judgement. What parent doesn’t want that?
During half term MM and TM had a fight. One of a few. This one was over a monster truck. The object was a random Christmas stocking filler, rightfully owned by MM, only by the fact that Mr LMR and I had done a quick and thoughtless separating of items, hastily bought then forgotten, in the run up to Christmas Eve. The said truck was unwrapped and discarded on the day, in favour of flashier items. Afterwards stored in the annoying random toy drawer under the stairs. There it stayed, until it was discovered by TM at the beginning of half term. When MM discovered TM playing with his truck he rightfully claimed it as his. Then began the fight. I now have rules about such fights. I rarely get involved, as you could referee until the end of time and never get to the bottom of what is going on. I will now only intervene if physical harm is on the cards. On this occasion the monster truck was being used as a weapon. Intervention required. I attempted to take on the role of the UN, explaining to both that the toy was MMs, however, as he hadn’t been playing with it, TM could borrow it and return it to him later. No chance. Very much like conflicts in the Middle East there was little chance of a resolution.
Now Solomon (remember him?) had a similar predicament brought to his door. His involved two mothers and one baby. Both said the baby was theirs. One had accidentally rolled on her baby in her sleep and suffocated him. In her despair she had swapped her baby with her neighbours. This is starting to sound like an unlikely Eastenders story line, I know, but bear with me. Now Solomon, confident that the real mother would show herself, asked for his sword. He said that to resolve the situation he would chop the remaining baby in half, so that they could each have a share. Gruesome. One woman immediately said “No, please, give the baby to her so he can live”. The other, weirdly, said “fine”. Probably an insight into her mental health after the death of her baby. Solomon therefore knew that the mother who sacrificed her happiness for the life of her baby was the rightful mother. One would hope that after this discovery the mother of the baby that had died was taken away and supported in her grief. Sadly this is the bible, so she was probably flogged and thrown out to walk in the wilderness for the rest of time. Anyway, what does this have to do with the monster truck?
Conflict resolution Solomon style
Well without an actual sword to threaten to cut the truck in half, I confiscated it and told them that they could have it back when they came to a resolution between themselves. The truck was repeatedly requested and their request denied, when they again began arguing about whose it was. Eventually TM came to me and said, give MM the truck. It is his and I can find something else to play with. I took it down and asked him to give it to MM himself. He did and then MM said he could share it with him. All friends again. Amazing. I didn’t actually think it would work.
Let’s be honest, they only played with the truck for about 30 minutes and later they had a similar dispute over a random plastic penguin, whose ownership and origin was unknown. For that 30 minutes however, I was able to appreciate that I had been able to put faith in my parenting wisdom and stood my ground. That, in amongst the nonsense that fills my children’s heads, they do know how to do the right thing. It was like when you get a glowing school report and you have to double check the name on the front. To return to my original question of why I would always chose wisdom. Well because I often spend far too much time worrying about whether or not I am doing a good enough job with my monkeys. Most of the time it feels like they aren’t listening and I am banging my head against a brick wall. What the little episode with the monster truck demonstrated for me, was that some of it is seeping through and maybe the results just aren’t instant. Taking time for myself has given me more confidence to challenge behaviour in a more productive way on occasion. Of course you will still hear me yelling “For the love of God, how many times, just put your shoes on” most mornings. But having the knowledge that later I will be running, reassures me that we will work it out, find another way to tackle the problem, then maybe, just maybe, they will show me that I’m not talking to myself after all.