This Mad Mama! Moment brought to you by… resistance.
The other day I was talking to a friend about her young daughter’s Waldorf-inspired daycare. Each day for their lunch, they light a candle and eat together. The candle flame is a “fire fairy.”
For the last month or so, our family has been having a candle at our evening meal. My son Orlando (four and a half) always wants to blow out the candle, often before we are finished eating.
I have struggled, almost daily, since the birth of my second child, to remain patient and compassionate with my kids; to parent in the way I believe.
And here I am, being impatient, uncompassionate, and definitely not peaceful.
I tell him, “No.”
He replies, “I wanna blow it out!”
And I say, “No! We’re still eating.”
All the while he is trying to lean closer and I am moving the candle away. I am saying no.
Everything about me is saying NO, and not in that firm no-nonsense way of a mother that usually, as a result of its own clarity, gets an immediate response.
It is NO in a desperate attempt to revert to the past or some ideal time when no child of mine would try to blow out a candle before dinner is done.
And so not effective.
Then I start feeling sorry for myself: Why is everything such a struggle? An immediate battle?
Because I make it that way?
Suddenly, inspiration strikes.
“But if we blow out the candle now, the fire fairy won’t have time to get back home!”
“The fire fairy?”
“Yes,” I say, and I light up and look my child in the eye. “The fire fairy is in the flame -– let’s have her stay with us a bit longer.”
His eyes are wide. His face is filled with wonder. “The fire fairy is inside the flame?”
“Yes,” I say. “Yes.”
Then I pause. “Will you wait and blow out the candle when we are done eating?”
And just like that, we are no longer fighting. We’ve gone from No to Yes.
Orlando sits back down. We continue eating, and stay at the table for a long time.
I feed him bite after bite. He leans against me (he scoots his chair as close as possible to my chair during meals, which I have lately been responding to with stress, yet tonight I am grateful for this mellow closeness). We are as relaxed as if we were sitting in front of a roaring fireplace.
Finally, it is time for the fire fairy to fly away home. Orlando and I blow out the flame.
* * *
May all beings be free of pain and suffering.