Many of us grew up with parents who had good intentions but had no understanding of what part of themselves they were acting from.
I remember many parents saying to their children something like “Only 6 more days until Morgan’s birthday party!” The child then responding in kind with this grandiose excitement. What wasn’t understood was that hidden in that revved up excitement was a certain disappointment if, for some reason, the child was unable to attend that party.
That kind of revved up excitement enlarges a certain expectation in the child. I am using a birthday party invitation as an example, but it applies across the board (and to children of all ages), including the planning of a trip away or someone coming to visit.
As always, practical things are necessary to do, such as shopping for a birthday gift, but a good question to ask is “Why say anything other than what is practical and necessary?
1. Mark down the event on your calendar.
2. When it’s time to take the child shopping for a gift or items needed for a trip, simply state that you are going to the mall for…. “
3. When the day of the event comes and it’s time to get ready to go, simply ask the child to do the practical things necessary before they leave for the event.
If you are willing to see it, the above scenario is a natural one because the parent didn’t place any extra interference on the event. There’s no unnatural “revving up” of the child.
A good question to ask ourselves might be “Is the sense of excitement that we seek in the experiences of this world, something real?” If it were truly an authentic experience, it couldn’t turn into disappointment at the drop of a hat if it didn’t go our way.
Perhaps that is what Life is actually trying to show us in those unwanted moments, the fact that we are living from old beliefs that can only create disappointment, sadness, regret, etc. until the purpose of those unwanted moments is understood.
What if living “moment to moment” (our natural state) is the only way to live a life that is truly exciting, because it is an agreement to be new all the time. It is unwavering, unlike living from past beliefs that waver all the time.
I had to take two girls to their gymnastics class one afternoon. When we walked into the gym, the younger girl’s eyes laid on the jumpy house that was blown up and she said “Oh! Yay! I get to play in the jumpy house today!” I asked her how she knew that. She simply pointed at the jumpy house.
I shared with her that it was possible that the bouncy house was set up for another purpose, which ended up being the case. I asked the girl how she felt now that she knew she wasn’t going to be able to play in the jumpy house. She responded “sad”.
Now in this instance, there was no person that had “revved her up” about the jumpy house. It was her own mind that convinced her that she was going to play in the jumpy house. In (unknowingly) identifying with that expectation, that “revving up” of herself, the flip side came into play (sadness and disappointment) because the flip side is always built into any expectation.
What I am trying to get at here is that our minds unattended create their own expectations that always come with the flip side of sadness, disappointment, frustration, anger, when the expectation doesn’t come to fruition. Why add to that for our children by revving them up, which is the same as setting them up for those negative states? Why not work instead to teach our child self-understanding through self-observation.
Guy Finley so eloquently described self-observation like this: “Learn to watch yourself rise and fall. Watch yourself appear on fire, and watch the fire go out. Watch yourself rise, frightened, and watch life erase the conditions that produced it. You’re able to see in this state of self-observation, of watching instead of being willful, that life is answering itself and that you’re the instrument of this question and answer. Life — in its brilliant movement — brings things that are pleasing or not, and you can be in direct relationship with the whole of that movement. That’s what the capacity to observe yourself sets into motion.”
Before entering that gymnastics venue, that child simply knew she was going to her gymnastics class, period. It wasn’t until her eyes laid on the bouncy house that an expectation arose. From that you can see that our minds on their own use our attention to set up these expectations which, when we aren’t aware of them, create the ups and downs in our lives. That is something that is taking place all the time in our unawareness.
As parents, we can teach our children to be a true participant in Life. We can teach our children to simply observe all of that as it is taking place and in that observation, a child can learn that they don’t have to become angry or disappointed. They always have a choice. They can simply let those feelings move through, simply let them come and go as they were intended to.
J. Krishnamurti put it like this: “We are not saying that pleasure must be suppressed or given full freedom, but see what is implied in pleasure, the nature of it, its content, have an insight into it, understand it, go into it, be aware of its movement. Then you will find what enjoyment and joy are.”
Exercise for the Week: See if you can catch yourself revving your child up about something. It might appear that by doing this exercise a child won’t have any fun, but that is absolutely untrue. When you are truly present with your child, you help them to be present with Life, which is the most exciting thing in the world.