“Mimi, I’m going to make you annoyed.”
Shaman Boy looks up at me expectantly, with those gorgeous blue eyes of his.
He’s happily playing underneath the kitchen table with his trucks and he does NOT want to stop what he is doing to go to school.
As my eyes connect to his, I get the whole download. His words just played his hand.
Like all our little ones, he doesn’t have much say in many of the daily happenings in his life. He has to go to school, whether he wants to – or is ready to – or not. He is called away from being a tub boat captain, in the middle of an important, long voyage, to come to dinner. He can’t finish digging his 6-foot hole before he needs to go to bed. (And trust me, he gets plenty of “5 more minutes” and “5 minute warnings”…)
What recourse does he have then against this adult-dictated world?
His rather formidable ability to elicit emotion. At 5 years old, he’s already a master.
In the blink of an eye, I see that he knows that he’s going to school, but he’s not happy about it. So if he can get me riled up, then he “won.” He regains some power over the situation. And if I get annoyed, then we can play emotional ping-pong for a few more minutes, which means he’ll be delayed at heading out the door to school.
Not this time buddy.
I’ll readily admit, that all our negotiations, all the daily bustle to here and there, can be draining. When I get tired or impatient, then I do start getting annoyed. And it’s not necessarily only with Shaman Boy. It can be with anyone – a coworker, beloved, family member – who’s not moving at my speed or needs to be reminded about an agreement for the umpteenth time.
But this school year, I made the promise to myself that I’d have clothes and lunch ready the night before, set an alarm, and be focused on having a calm morning before we launch into our day. When I’m not stressed from sleeping in late, we have a much smoother morning. Yet now, a few weeks into our new routine, Shaman Boy’s looking for some juice.
I take a deep breath. I can feel I’m right on the tippy edge of getting annoyed, but I still have an ounce of choice in this moment to go another route. So I smile down at him. “Actually, you’re not going to make me annoyed. We’re having a calm morning. I need you to get your shoes on because we are about to leave.”
Shaman Boy sighs and follows me toward the door.
I am committed to keeping the calm. No, I don’t do it every time, but more and more as I slow down a fraction and remember that yes, I want to get him to school, but more importantly I want to do so pleasantly. And yes, I want to get him in bed so I can have some time with Shaman Guy or to myself, but more importantly I want to allow enough time to follow through on Shaman Boy cleaning up before bed. I want bedtime to be a calming transition into sleep.
When we make a choice to glide past our tendency to become frustrated, when we dig for an ounce more of patience, then we often avoid a confrontation. We don’t give away our emotional energy, a highly precious resource. When we stay calm, it helps the world around us stay calm too.
So take notice Shaman Boy. I’m going for the win-win. I’m taking the mellow route to all our destinations. A calm, happy Mama and a bouncy, boisterous happy boy puttering along.
We’re doing it…
A cool and calm Shaman Girl