This morning provided a relevant anecdote. I was driving my 13-yeard old son to school when he produced, from his pants pocket, a 3-D printed butterfly knife. He was opening and closing it quickly, which got my attention. It turns out, he was planning to take it to school and had already printed one the day before at home and gave it to a classmate. When I told him that he couldn't have the fake knife in school because it is a facsimile of a weapon, he replied, "Oh--that's ok. I will only take it out at recess." (You see the lack of judgment here, right? I then mandated that he leave the plastic knife in my car at drop-off or I would have to call the principal and have her come get it from him to prevent him from getting in more serious trouble. He then became quite belligerent and proceeded to pitch the "toy," as he called it, out the window. He berated me for the rest of the drive, reminding me repeatedly how angry he was with me and how much I had upset him with my actions. I will spare you the exact words, since I have some embarrassment coming up around the way my child was speaking me.
How does this relate to mindfulness? Well, I think I handled the event more mindfully that I would have before adopting mindfulness practices. While not perfect, I have refined my ability to respond to situations with my children from my heart, rather than reacting harshly from a place of fear or negativity. I am grateful that I was mindful and present enough to not "get hooked" in the emotions that my child was experiencing. I was able to stay calm and centered. I was able to continue to offer unconditional love and acceptance, despite the way my son was acting toward me. This is not always the case! I am also grateful that I had the confidence and good judgment to go into the school after seeing the kids off and let the principal know what was happening so she could follow up with my son and the classmate who had received the 3-D knife yesterday. (By the way, she was wonderful--empathetic and understanding. She assured me that the boys would not be in trouble and this was a learning situation.)
I continued to not get hooked later in the morning, when my son started sending me hostile texts to further admonish me for betraying him.
This parenting thing is no joke.
Alfie Kohn says that instead of referring to simple things by saying, "It's not rocket science" or "It's not brain surgery," we should instead say--"It's not parenting." :)
Blessings, peace and love to anyone who reads this and encounters these dramas with their children on a regular basis, as I do. May this sharing remind you that you are not alone on this challenging journey of raising bright, creative and strong-willed human beings. And please feel free to comment!