This beautiful video was making the rounds a few years ago. This is something I am unlikely to ever see in person and I feel lucky that I get to see it here and I am thankful for all the beauty in the world, the seen and the unseen. For those of you celebrating, I hope you have a lovely time. For those of you facing hard times, may this day land easily.
One of the hardest thing for us parents to wrap our heads around is how often we have to repeat ourselves.
“Shut the door.”
“Pick up your shoes.”
“No, you can’t have cookies for dinner.”
“Hitting is against the rules in this house.”
You’d think they’d figure it out after the 457th time we’ve said it and yet there we go, repeating ourselves over and over and over again.
There’s a reason we have to turn into broken records; our kids are always growing and so they need to learn some things over and over and over again.
When your child grows from one stage into a new stage she’s learning things in an entirely new context. She has new developmental tasks to master, new facts to contemplate, and new skills to integrate. In this entirely new environment the things you’ve taught her — shut the door, pick up your shoes, etc. — don’t mean what they used to mean and she has to learn them again.
For example, your average everyday 3-year old may be pretty good about not slamming the door. She’s anxious to please you, likes your approval and wants to prove what a big girl she is. That’s the context she’s learning that whole “shut the door quietly” rule.
That very same child as a 4-year old may start slamming the door again. Her curiosity may be more intense at this age so she may be so anxious to move onto the next thing that the door slams behind her before she even notices. 4-year olds may also be more interested in challenging adults, leading to more door slamming because now she wants to explore what happens when she breaks your rules.
Totally the same behavior happening in totally different contexts with totally different things to learn. We just see the annoying behavior, we just hear ourselves saying it yet again — “Don’t slam the door!” — but for her it’s not just a slamming door, it’s a whole new thing to learn in a whole new way.
What parents need is faith that all of our repetition is sinking in because it is. We also need to know that continued commitment to the house rules and values create a structure that makes it safe for our children to grow and that part of that growth includes challenging that structure. It’s not easy, I know, but know that with every repetition you are offering your child a new opportunity to learn.
Parenting is a long-haul operation, lemme tell you. Hang in there!
And now for your listening pleasure (because parents need a little pleasure to get through some of this rough stuff) is The Bird and The Bee singing Again & Again.
This is long (more than 16 minutes, which is 2 years in internet time) but worth it.
Scott Lew is a screenwriter, a dad, a poet and he’s been living with ALS for more than a decade. He’s got a good life and you can watch the documentary below for some inspiration and encouragement. His wife is pretty cool, too.
One of my favorite bands. The video is cute but boring. It’s the song that makes me happy. I hope it makes you happy, too. So throw those curtains wide!
I originally had this slated to go live on Tuesday for this week’s Therapeutic Moments but I am so saddened by the news from Florida this weekend that I decided to share it today. This is a little like Where in the Hell is Matt and it was just what I needed to watch. The filmmakers flew around the world and filmed 35 musicians all singing the same song. They edited the results to bring this diverse group of musicians together and this video is the result. I hope you find it inspiring and comforting, too.