We had a wonderful time visiting cousins this afternoon. First, we joined them in their hotel room and stuffed ourselves with falafel and hummus. Then, Philip played with his cousins Kyra and Fiona by tossing around a ball they had given him as a gift. After a while, we all went to the pool. At first, Philip didn’t even want to go into the room. But, after a while, we had him jumping into my arms in the water and tossing the ball around to his cousin. Eventually, we were all cold and ready to get warm. We returned to the hotel room, watched parts of Maid in Manhattan and laughed when Uncle Mike said, “She’s going to kiss Voldemort!” Apparently, to him, Ralph Fiennes has been marked for life and will forever be the Harry Potter villain.
After saying our goodbyes and giving out many hugs, we headed home amid the blowing, gusting wind. I was reminded of how winter is often reluctant to give up her domain to spring. After we tackled chores and put Philip to bed, I briefly checked out the news when I found an intriguing blog post on the New York Times: “Teaching Children to Calm Themselves” by David Bornstein. It is a post about a particular program that is helping traumatized children build constructive anger management skills. Some of the approaches, such as the reminder bracelet and the “Calm-Down Corner” are worth noting even if your child doesn’t have trauma events in their past. After all, feeling angry is a very human emotion. We can’t escape it, no matter how replete our personalities are with equanimity. The more everyone, including children, can learn how to navigate their anger, the more we will all benefit.
As a mother and a partner, I’ve had to confront my tendency toward volatility. Having strategies, whether it’s breathing, going for a walk, or simply saying, “I need to take some time to think,” can be very beneficial. Once, I had a friend tell me that people who suggest resisting the urge to yell are “living in La La Land,” but I don’t agree. Yelling to warn someone that they’re about to be in danger is, of course, appropriate. However, yelling in anger doesn’t help anything. It does more damage than it purports to resolve. Every term, I have students in my Human Relations class watch the 90/10 Principle according to the late Stephen Covey. I think it illustrates my point without having to belabor it.
Bruce and I are still reading “The Storytelling Animal” by Jonathan Gotschall. It is quickly becoming my new favorite book. The latest tidbit we learned was about the art of confabulation, how we all unwittingly make up lies that we think are truths, and tell them to ourselves and others…and that it’s pretty unintentional and altogether human. Fascinating. Also, the whole section on conspiracy theories as “more compelling stories” than the truth was rather alarming and thought provoking. When you read it, you’ll know what I mean.
On that note, we’re going to tackle some more of the book tonight. Maybe we will go ALL OUT and have cereal for a snack while we read on the couch before heading to bed. WOW.
…Have a good night.