Yesterday I felt this incredible pull to get things done, to get a leg up on my to-do list! This included at one point taking my son to the mall to purchase a few items. All was fine for a while, until we had an incident indicative of ten-year old boys that led to a meltdown. The specifics that lead to the tail spin are not so important, although had I been paying more attention to his needs and not my list, perhaps I could have averted the mess all together.
So there we were in the department store, him walking around angry, and me chasing after him with a raised voice attempting to get him to stop and listen to me. I am sure for those watching it was not a pretty scene, and any chance of winning dad of the year went out the window. And then something very important happened that changed everything…
I realized my actions were ridiculous and hardly working. So I just stopped right in the center of men’s dress shirts and sat down on a shelf and waited. I knew he wouldn’t wander off, but instead wonder what the heck I was doing. And what I was doing was more for me than him. I was calming myself down.
When I stopped focusing on him and focused on my body I realized I was far more amped up than I had realized! My chest was tight, breathing short, and I felt hot in the face. I began staring at a Hawaiian shirt hanging in front of me with palm trees and a beach. I envisioned sitting in the sand and feeling the gentle waves of the ocean caress my feet as I deepened my breath. And within minutes I was calm.
I used my calm to reassess the situation. He was a couple of aisles over in dress pants still stirring. Every now and then he glanced over at me, but I just kept sitting there enjoying the present moment and me new found peace. I realized nothing on my list was as important as helping him learn to also calm down. And how could I do that if I wasn’t calm?
It took about a half-hour before he came over with tears in his eyes and said he wanted to talk. He was sorry he got mad and wanted to continue on with our day. I also apologized for getting mad as well, and pointed out how the time we had spent in men’s clothes was time well spent! At first he was a bit confused, but when I explained the power slowing down and just feeling the present moment he got it.
On the way to the car he looked up at me and said,
Dad, I really appreciate you helping me like you did.
Next time your kid acts out, check in with yourself first, and model for them what you hope they do.