Saturday, November 23, 2013

What we CAN do

[***My young greens-keeping apprentice looks on from within the Moby wrap as I mow]

One of the things I often find myself repeating to my children is, "Please tell her what she can do, instead of what she can not."  This motto gets airtime in a variety of situations.  For example, I would say this should I hear Esky desperately crying out, "Please!  Not around the neck!" while Ivy is giving her an exuberant DDT/Ivy-hug.  These things happen.  Esky has since learned she might instead say, "Please hug me around my waist," or "Be gentle with me," or "I love it when you hug me under my arms, like this."
This is all, of course, if she can breathe. /wink   
NB: We do have the safe words "No thank you" to end tickling-gone-too-far and other physical things we wish to stop immediately and want to sound a clear "No" to.    

 Perhaps not the finest example.

"Ivy, come hold my hand on the steps while Mama moves the car," is preferable to, "No, Ivy!"  Ivy of course doesn't know what is being "no-ed" -- the direction she is walking, how she is walking, what she is carrying, what she is looking at, what she was thinking of doing next, or the song she was humming!

I dream of a houseful of humans who communicate wishes / requests / desires / expectations / suggestions instead of complaints and limitations.

Lately, I've noticed this same message is one I need to hear, for myself.  My days go so much better when I remind myself, "Please think of what you can do, instead of what you can not."  This applies to my responses to my children, to those who would employ my usual willingness to a task outside my home, and my attitude towards the menial makings of many a day o' mine (1, 2 and 3).

As parents, the first emphasis for Haki and me is thinking about what we can do (e.g.'s);
  • We may not be able to fix the Duplo arch right now, but we would be thrilled to make some suggestions if they will scoot over so we have a better view.  Ah, we can help now, perfect! (1)
  • We can't come outside just yet, but we would love to read a book while we nurse on the couch until we can come out later.  We can do something together.  This isn't one Haki's experienced. (1)
  • We really need to spend time with our family the night that meeting is on, but we can email our thoughts on the subject you're discussing. (2)
  • Perhaps we cannot afford to join you at the movie theatre, but you needn't know that, because we can invite you to join us for a movie night at our place instead. (2)
  • I can hang out three loads of washing and enjoy it if I call my sister while I'm doing it. (3)
  • I can mow the lawn while Haki's at work if I think creatively about how to keep a close eye on my most dependent human and ensure my elder girls, in sight, have a clear understanding of how to get my attention if they need me.*** (3)
If I were to italicise a second word in the mantra, it would be on the word "think."  Although we are very much learners in this parenting gig, one thing we have learned is that time is one of our most valuable currencies.  Being positive about how we can make the most of our time for those we love most, those we want to help, and ourselves is important, but so is the thinking.  Having the "can do" attitude does not mean we indiscriminately say "yes" to everything that would snatch some of our schedule.  Haki reminds me often to seriously think about what I can do; to think before exclaiming, "I can do it!"  I need to define the "it" before I respond.  And I'm getting better at that.

As this Christmas month approaches, and ceaseless things appear, calling for my hand or heart, I am finding much. much. more joy in this season (and this season of our lives) by assessing the things that I may do, and carefully framing my chosen responses with enthusiasm in the positive.

If I ever seem to take pleasure in things you cannot understand, it is probably because I have found there is a way I can do something, and that pleases me;  I can face the immortal messes with music to sing to / a game added to a chore's execution / someone to talk to.

If I were earning chips here, I should have been awarded one for recently saying, "I can recommend someone excellent for that job," when I was asked to organise a large event at a time that was ill for our family.  "I can..."  I can do that.  And it's okay.  And it's kind of like the compulsion to say "yes" was extinguished by flipping my "no" into a "yes."* 

I know.  It's all rather wiley.  Semantics.  I does them.

But we yay-sayers need a blanket for the fire of desire to please.
And it feels good to keep things positive instead of whiney / dreadful / rejection-like / disappointing / overly laborious.
So, have you really said "no" by saying "yes" lately?
Or made something you thought you couldn't do doable with a creative solution?
What can you do?

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