You don’t have to be disagreeable when you disagree. Getting hateful and angry when encountering someone who doesn’t share your beliefs is a sign that you have complete identification with your thoughts. But your thoughts are just that – your thoughts.
Today was the first day of Tetra Quartet Summer Camp for my daughters, 14 and 15. They both play violin.
The 15-year-old is a night owl. But for camp, she needs to wake up by 7:30 am, not her preferred hour of noon.
She was a sleeping angel – so cute! – who was about to become a demon. I dreaded it. I gave her a hug and kiss. Nothing.
I nudged her a little later. Nothing.
I yelled out from the hallway, “Got to get up soon!” Nothing.
My mind flashed past articles I read about not waking your children. Something about being a helicopter parent. I’m not a helicopter parent! Still…she needed to get up. My BP was rising.
At last, she woke. Grumpy. She slammed things. She packed her music stand roughly. I held my tongue. I asked her to do that last night! How dare she get angry because she didn’t prepare! But I remained quiet.
We were in the car. She wanted me to hurry, because tardy musicians must do a little song and dance for the (on time) group.
As calmly as I could manage, I said, “You weren’t prepared for this morning. Your oversight is not my emergency. I’m not going to rush and risk an accident. You have a cell phone with an alarm clock. I will not wake you up anymore. If you can’t get up, you’ll be late. Your song and dance consequence is not my concern.” Sitting in the backseat, the 14-year-old’s silence was deafening. Good – a bit of peer pressure for the older sibling.
We sat in peace for the rest of the ride.
I realized that had I said something earlier, when she was huffing and puffing, and slamming things, we would have had a “blow out.” Instead, I waited until I was calm (and she was calmer) and stated in a factual matter what was what.
I’ve discussed my trials and tribulations parenting teenagers here and here and…everywhere.
I had a breakthrough today. If you’re reading this and you’re a perfect parent, well, you won’t be impressed in the least. Maybe I’m a slow learner. But this is a true story.
I was walking today and listening Eckhart Tolle. I know some of you think it’s all self-help crap and I’m a lost soul…but I have become a better person for it. Anyway, in this particular recording, Tolled talked about the importance of of “space” and “non-reaction.”
The goal, he says, is to feel at peace. At all times.
Just then, my daughter texted me. “—— can drive me to you.”
“Great,” I respond.
“I need to go home and change and do my makeup and then I need to be back at school by 6:15,” she texts.
“Can —– drive you home?” My boss had a retirement party this afternoon. It’d be quite challenging to drive back and forth.
Tolle continues to talk about the importance of space and non-reaction. If you can, create space between yourself and the angry person.
She calls me. I answer. Good, texting is dumb, anyway.
She talks to me in an angry voice. I can hear a bunch of teenagers trying to talk to her. She gets angry at me because I can’t understand her – she’s talking to me, she’s talking to them…I’m confused.
I ask her (again) if —- can drive her home.
She responds with sarcasm and anger. She sighs heavily, as if it’s so hard to have me as a mom. She talks to me as if I’m stupid. Her words become staccato with anger. I. told. you.
I hang up.
She texts me with more anger. Her answers include expletives. How dare I hang up on her!
I text back with: “If you think you’re going to talk to me that way, you’re out of luck.”
I’m proud of my lack of emotion. I feel the anger, but I refuse to react. Eckhart has my back.
Tolle continues, “Someone may even yell at you and you want to yell back, but don’t.” It’s as if he’s walking with me!
So I don’t. I don’t react. I want to, believe me. I want to remind her whose the mom…but I’ve been down that road before and it never works.
It never pays to engage with her rage.
Long story short, she tried to involve me in an argument. She wanted to place blame. She wanted to excuse her horrible behavior and blame me. I stop her. I re-direct her to make a plan. We make the plan. We execute.
Later, she apologizes. She has not apologized in a very long time…months, even.
I see many painful moments in her future. She will have to learn the hard way, she always has. But that’s OK. I’ll be here.