Saturday, August 04, 2012

fighting words

Maybe the triple digit heat with temperatures upwards of 110 degrees have something to do with it, or maybe it's a consequence of us slacking off on our agenda, but I've noticed an unwelcome increase in the amount whining, fussing, and caterwauling heard in these parts -- yes, even from me.  What's going on?   The answer is probably multi-fold, but on my part I'm sure my sleep deficit isn't helping.  I thought this braid of homegrown garlic curing in our kitchen might help ward off the crankies (just kidding), but alas it has not.

homegrown garlic braid

I am not one to criticize, blame, nag, cajole, or be passive aggressive.  When I am extraordinarily tired, however, I am far less able to take the "normal" drama and shennanigans in stride.  Instead of employing humor, goofiness, or alternatives to yelling like singing or whispering, I am far more inclined to be snarky, snippy, snide, or sarcarstic in my terse responses.  I am never proud of those pronouncements.  They are anything but constructive. I don't like to be spoken to in any of those ways, and I always feel terrible when I allow such vitriol to escape my lips. 

It is one of my highest priorities for our bambini to learn to authentically, respectfully, and honestly express whatever emotion or need they're trying to verbalize.   However will they learn to do that?  By replicating the way the adults in their lives handle themselves in times of stress and moments of need.  (That would be me, among others)

When one of our children spouts off some poorly-phrased demand request or hurtful insult, I try to respond matter-of-factly with an opportunity to restate him- or herself and a script to use in doing so.  When the insults are flying among siblings or disrespectful demands are hurtled my way, adding my own yelling voice to the equation gets us nowhere good (even if I'm trying to communicate that some things are better left unsaid).

Feelings of frustration, disappointment, hurt, and confusion are all part of the human experience.  It's important to sort them out and move on without name-calling, empty threats, or brute force, just as it's important to take ownership of the emotions we feel and take control of how we allow the treatment of others to affect us.  Similarly, we all have basic (and not-so-basic) needs for all kinds of things both tangible and intangible.  Not every need is of equal necessity, nor can every one be met *right now.*  And we can't always have everything we want -- not in this life.

We owe it to our bambini, their future spouses, ourselves, and society at large to express our own emotions, needs, and desires clearly, respectfully, and as lovingly as possible -- even when we are tired, frustrated, hungry, overheated, or otherwise vexed -- so that when our little loves go to express themselves, they will have some positive point of reference to model.  They won't always get it right, but with practice comes a greater chance of success.

On my part I have to get better about going to bed earlier so that I have easier access to the tools at my disposal.  When it comes to conflict resolution, I'm still working on developing the virtue of fortitude to speak up in a manner that honors the needs of all involved.  The best outcome of such a faithful response to conflict or insult instructs those who are watching closely to be ever mindful of the presence of Christ in every person and to be respectful of the inherent dignity in each of God's precious children, young or old, sassy or circumspect, willing or unwilling, peaceful or troubled, happy or sad, whatever and whenever.  It's how I wish to be treated, and it's how I endeavor to teach our bambini to treat others, to "do as I would be done by", and to tread lightly on the delicate ground that is the heart of the other.

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