I'm in a coffee shop standing in line, when I see a mom with her young son. She is guiding him toward three holes in the marble counter.
"This is recycling," she says. "Just drop these in there."
He stands motionless with the paper cups and plates in his hands.
"Go on, honey, put them in," she says, while cleaning up the table they were sitting at moments before.
He does not move.
See....the counter is at eye level. He is too small, to short to see the hole where the recyclables go. She is gathering their belongings.
In a moment, she glances over and intuitively notices that he is now on his toes. She lifts him up so he can see the top of the counter. And in an instant, he drops the stuff in.
"There you go," she says, smiling. He breaks into a skip, and they leave hand in hand.
This one of those mundane moments, of which the day is made up of thousands, that's not about this mom's lack of intuition in knowing her son couldn't see from her vantage point... but of her power of observation to notice that he was, in fact, not seeing at her level (a great metaphor for how we relate), and shifting to lift him up to change perspectives.
She had to see the moment...to seize the moment.
But this tiny little moment in time have gone down in the emotional flames of disconnection...if in a state of anxiety and her own inner struggle, she had:
...gotten angry with him for not doing as told him...
...grabbed the stuff out of his hands and done it for him...
...tossed it out without engaging him...
None of these is a sign of her deficiency as a parent. We must not judge ourselves or others with such hard-heartedness.
Shift focus to a positive reframe and consider how these mundane moments actually influence the day and inform our connection with our kids.
We don't always notice the discrepancies. In this case, he couldn't see what she could see. But, when she noticed that discrepancy, she acted upon her attention to detail.
This is a beautiful example of how tiny the moments are that sew together a tapestry of empathy, trust and connection.
It begins with noticing. Curiosity is the gateway to connection.
Little slights and wounds and disappointments are remembered in the body and mind. That's why we can still feel the sting of shame from our second grade teacher who singled us out in class and humiliated us. We don't remember the detail of why, just how we felt.
Take heart, dear mamas and papas. It's not the big sweeping choices we make, but more often the tiny moments we notice, shift, adjust, rewind and replay, repair and restore...those are the stepping stones on our journey that lead us home.
The home...we are creating now with our children. The one they will take with them through their lives. James Taylor sang, "Home, build it behind your eyes."
We build home behind our eyes when we practice seeing through our child's eyes.
It's as simple, and powerful, as recycling our cups in a coffee shop in a fleeting moment. A moment of cooperation and connection that cultivates regulation, compassion and joy.
-- Lu Hanessian
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