The kids had been in front of the screen for about an hour and a half, watching Ninjas. Dinner was half ready and I was hoping I could get them to shower while I finished. We were running a bit late but if they were quick it would be all right… But the kids didn’t even want to hear about showering. They began quarrelling all over the kitchen. I got tense. Then they took their quarrel to their father’s office. After some minutes he was coming down, irritated, asking me to attend to the kids and get them to take the recycling and rubbish out. ?? I was getting close to exasperation. I tried in every possible, measured way to get my message across to them. Nothing.
This is the point where I usually get angry. But lately I have made a vow to listen to my feelings, specially fear. I took myself away, I allowed myself to crumble, I listened to all the voices in my head: the panic, the rage, the overwhelm, the exhaustion, the powerlessness… I cried, I grumbled, I let it all flow through me…
Once the emotions had moved (did you know that the root of the word ’emotion’ means movement? I reckon it’s because that’s what they are meant to do = move), my thinking ability returned. Point 1: it’s ok if the kids don’t shower till tomorrow. Point 2: they have been sitting and taking stuff in for 1 ½ hours, no wonder they need to let some out now! Point 3: I reckon they also need to feel connected to us, and when neither their dad nor I are available to them, they tend to fight. Point 4: dinner is actually almost finished. Conclusion: I believe the fastest way for them to listen to me is if I listen to their needs first. They want to connect; I’ll give them 15 minutes. I bet we’ll be in a better position to negotiate afterwards.
So I rolled a newspaper and run in between their quarrel shouting “En garde!” They jumped on me!! We had the grandest time sword fighting with newspaper rolls, waking each other noisily and laughing lots. After a while, the house was covered in newspaper bits from all the hitting. Yet, the play had totally changed our state of being. I didn’t feel overwhelmed or angry, and they didn’t feel disconnected. My creative thinking was at its best. Inspired by the cartoons they had been watching, I had a brilliant idea:
‘All right, ninjas in training, I am Sensey. Listen carefully: our world is covered in baddies’ I said pointing to the bits of newspaper. ‘They are highly dangerous, you can only touch them for a second or you die! Our task is to clear this country called “The bedroom” from all the baddies, are you with me?’
‘Yes!’ they shouted in unison.
‘Great! I’ll bring a cage to put them in’. I got the bin. The bedroom was clean in no time.
‘Good job, trainees! Now, the rest of the world is also in danger. I have seen baddies everywhere! Let’s explore the other countries and catch them all!’
In the kitchen, Aron got the tongs to be more effective. Nina got jealous and almost began a fight over them. But my thinking mind was still at its best: ‘No need to fight! I have another, very important tool for our task of saving the world’ I said as I pulled out the dust pan and brush and held them up triumphantly: ‘the baddy sweeper!’ We all laughed. The house was tidy in a record time.
‘Well done, trainees! There are two last tasks needed. Aron, please check for baddies in the pebbly country called “Cat litter tray”. You will have to put them in a plastic bag and put them in a different kind of cage called “the rubbish bin”, OK?’
‘Yes, Sensei!’ replied Aron.
‘Nina, please, bring me all the cages with baddies from the countries called “my office” and “the upstairs toilet”! I’ll do the kitchen cages’.
‘Yes, Sensei!’ and Nina was off.
A minute later, all the bins were gathered by the front door.
‘All right, trainees, this is the last and most dangerous task. We need to venture with all the cages into the outdoor wilderness, making sure none of the baddies escape their cages. They will try to, especially when we transfer them to their space ship called “wheely bin” to go to a different planet, so we must be especially vigilant. Are you up to it?’
‘Yes, Sensei!’ they chorused. We took all the recycling and rubbish outside and emptied them into the wheely bins. When done, I bowed in Namaste to both of them:
‘Well, done, trainees!! Fantastic job! You have both achieved your highest potential!’ I said, still borrowing the jargon from the cartoons.
The children were over the moon. I don’t think I have ever had so much fun taking the rubbish out. Thank you, my beloved Ninjas!
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