Human being versus human doing, 5/5/2015

My timetable says it is time to brush teeth, or wash hands, or put shoes on. But my son has different ideas. He is in his own world of dress ups, books, bows and arrows, Lego, races. I have told him enough times (provably too many); finally I realise he can’t even hear my voice. I try a different tactic, a different tone, another approach. Nothing. My mum used to complain she was talking to the walls; I remember her often… — sigh!–

I rake my brains trying to find a way to get to him, to make him see that the clock keeps on ticking, the school bus doesn’t wait and dinner cools down. Finally, I have to admit that he just has different priorities. He really doesn’t mind about timetables or hygiene or cold food. I feel like pulling my hair out, and I know I’m not alone in my exasperation. Yet, there is something I admire about him. In my journey of personal growth, I have spent the last fifteen years trying to learn to be in the present… which is exactly what he does, every minute. And he has an enviable ability to concentrate, even if it is in his own inner world when I want him to concentrate in his homework, or getting dressed. He is practising his human being while I try to turn him into a human doing.

What I have realised, though, is that most of the struggle comes from the fact that both of us are, in some part, coming from pain. I stress because, when I was little, doing what I was told felt to me like a matter of life or death: not obeying meant facing my parent’s anger. The result is that deadlines, timetables and certain issues (whatever was serious for my parents, like hygiene), are treated in my subconscious as emergencies. On the other hand, he disconnects because listening to that pain of mine, those life or death emergencies, scares him. So it is safer to take refuge in his world of books or Lego.

So the first step of the solution was, for me, changing my outdated childhood pattern of panic. Slowly, every time my pain would get triggered, I would take myself aside, listen to it and heal. * Eventually, I have been able to relate to the issue without all its old emotional charge. Without that charge, I have the patience to attempt my second step: enter my son’s world and connect with him there. I show genuine interest in what he is into and, with that, breach that gap created by my pain and his need to disconnect from it. All of a sudden, his hearing is back, his eyes look at me, we are together again. The last step is to entice him back into MY world. Attachment Play has been my biggest inspiration for that. Turning tasks into games makes the children jump onto them with wagging tails.** It brings fun into our “boring” responsible world of lists to do. It strengthens the connection between parents and children, and brings laughter and ease into our never ending daily chores. It brings a little of their childhood world of being into our adult world of doing.
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I love the fact that, from being two disconnected human “doings” simmering on our pain, we have journeyed towards two connected human beings, having fun as we travel together.  Yippee!!

* For a more detailed example of how to do that, you can read issues #6 and #14 of my newsletter, Reflections. You can find issue #6, “The bus stop run”, on my facebook page (, and issue #14, “The healing process”, on the same page as well as my website ( ** For an account of a great Attachment Play situation, read my Parenting Diary entry called “Ninjas” (
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