a few months ago i went to a workshop on conscious discipline. which meant sitting around with other parents who were obviously aware that our current modes of disciplining our children did not appear to be working and/or being enjoyed by anyone in the family. we sat and we listened.
the woman leading the workshop spoke of a child acting out when they do not feel safe, and encouraged us to make a safe spot for our kids when they act out. take an unused corner of a room and put a cushion there and make it cozy. maybe put some sheets up around it so they feel like they are tucked away and have a safe spot to settle down. while this sounded nice, the problem is this: my girls see seasonal decorating as a year-round sport. if we are taking down something that made the house more “fancy” you better know what holiday is next because the weeping and gnashing of teeth that results when a decoration is put away is enough to drive a straight edge teen to drink. therefore, it’s hard for me to imagine communicating to my kid, who after being told not to kick the freshly painted big girl room with her nasty ol’ rainboot, looks at me and does it twice while glaring at me, to go find her cozy corner and regroup. to me this would be like seeing your child hit their sibling and then giving them tickets to disneyworld.
all my daughters want are special spots. there is a tiny hallway behind our stairs and given more than 17 seconds my girls will pull out every toy they own and set up a house, a tea party, a grocery store and a lobby for both gymnastic, ballet and fancy lessons. if you give them a minute they will be down the road in a portable food truck made with spare parts left over from craft time. so i felt like this may be leaning down the rewarding bad behavior, which is not the road we travel. but this week i got to thinking about it and i think there are times when we all need a “safe spot”.
this has been a rough season for our family and it is hard to find a moment when you are truly at rest. when you’re deprived of sleep and teetering on a dangerous level of angry, all you need is somebody to cut you off in traffic to be found on the news that evening. it is in these moments that i would love a safe spot. give me an unused corner of a room with a cushion and a sheet or two and a good book or fabulous song and i will make the magic happen. so what is it that i am so afraid of with giving this to my girls?
sometimes we need to come away. to take a moment apart from the norm in order to regroup and see the situation before you with new eyes. we are tempted to see this as an indulgence, but i think that the opposite is actually true: to refuse to pause and consider for even a moment that your vision may be clouded, but instead render your first impulse in handling situations as darn near flawless is as close to tom foolery that i have come. in every season there is a rhythm, whether challenging or ones in which you pick blessings off of trees like ripe apples. you breathe in and you breathe out. if you cease to have time for either of these then you cease to have time.
fall is my favorite season because it reminds me to come away and put on a sweater. to make a cup of tea and cuddle a moment longer under the blankets. fall is my wake-up call that i am not supposed to thrive on autopilot, but that life is supposed to affect me for better or for worse and my responsibility is my response to what i have been given. i want to choose life and love and happiness, but without my cushion and sheet/happy place chances are i will choose one of my own making that has no hope to compare.
i am inviting you… away. take a moment right now. take a walk around the block. grab a warm beverage. find your safe spot and regain composure. you know the girl who shoved herself into the overly sequined dress at prom. the dress that is now being used by NASA as a reference point to keep spacecraft in the proper orbit. that is what the hard stuff is like. it shoves the trial and stress into your brain which let’s be honest is not it’s size and it demands all the attention. what we need to do is to notice the girl who chose just the right dress for this special night. this night in which she is being invited to come away and have a sweet moment to see the beauty amidst the trial, the joy amidst the sunshine and rain.
take the time. breathe deep. and let the sequined wonder fade out of your peripheral.