Striving for family peace...
Every parent who reads this will know what I mean; that sinking feeling when your children are fighting each other. In public, or in private – arguing, calling each other names, even physically harming each other…it may not happen very often, but is among the hardest challenges of all when it does; to find a peaceful resolution and to not ‘lose it’ with them in your own frustration. (My gosh, especially when you’ve dedicated your life to peace and healing!)
On our morning walk to the bus stop Yani giggled as he let out a squicky fart; ‘whoops’, he said. I said; ‘oh-oh - you really loved eating all those frozen peas yesterday didn’t you?’ and then Pacha piped up in a sing-song teasy voice: ‘ha-ha, Yani’s going to fart all day in cla-ass’. I stopped and looked at Pacha and asked where that comment came from; what made her say something she knew would be hurtful?
She looked embarrassed and said something like this; ‘well I can’t say anything like that at school, I guess it feels safe to tease Yani, cos he’s my brother. When I get teased by people I can’t really do anything about it.’
We talked some more as we walked along about the way people treat each other and who teases whom at school. Pacha gave advice to Yani about what he should say back to someone who teases him (Yani: ‘he said my breath smelled like earth’ Pacha: ‘well you should say that his breath smells like cow poo’ and I said, ‘no, that’s only going to make the situation worse, maybe you could make him laugh and say that his breath smells like rose petals’).
This morning a mother at the bus stop asked for advice about her son who was being bullied by someone who used to be his best friend. I said for sure he is just letting out his frustrations, transferring the blame for the conflict around him on someone else (especially someone he feels ‘safe’ with) and maybe it’s best to try to explain this to her son to help him realise where the emotions might be coming from.
Maybe that’s one of the main purposes of families, safely providing a haven for releasing the pent up frustration with the rest of our interactions with the world. I guess that’s why, as adults, we also need to ‘off–load’ from time to time, in a safe place where ongoing harm is limited to the people we love who will forgive us and move on…
I don’t know what the answers are, but good, respectful, kind behaviour is the best example of all. At the same bus-stop morning conversation another mother said that her son said that Pacha is always looking out for and helping Yani at school. (whew!)
And about a month ago I had a visit from a friend who brought along her two sons (4 and 6 years old I think). Yani was playing with them all afternoon and when I put him to sleep he said: ‘Mum, those boys were so nice to each other, they shared everything and they didn’t fight...I like playing with those boys Mummy…’.