I mentioned in my Instagram post a couple of days ago how I find it amazing that the Lord gives us this time of the year where we can pause for a bit to reflect and be in tune with our faith and ourselves.
I’m thankful that the Holy Week this year really is a time to slow down. My kids have just finished another year at school. Parents (and all heroes who are sending someone to school) understand that our children finishing one school year is a huge accomplishment, at the same time a huge relief. While there is another school year coming, we just can’t help but assess how much our children have grown in the course of a year, in terms of what they learned and how much they developed as an individual.
In this Holy Week silence, allow me to write about one night a few weeks before my son’s school ended. It’s a memory I will always go back to, not necessarily because it was a happy one, but because it’s like a page in a book that we’d always review if ever we need to be reminded about any of these three things: pause, choices, and family.
It happened on a night I came home from a long day in a project. I asked my son what his assignment was. He told me he accidentally left it in school.
I told him it’s not an accident, it’s him not prioritizing his responsibility.
I asked him his solution to it. That’s when he started to cry. I asked if crying was his solution. Much as I wanted him to say something so we can move forward, I was so shocked when he opened his mouth to say:
“I am the most rotten boy.”
“I am not responsible.”
Right then and there, I was crushed. I cannot even utter a word for a minute because this is the first time I heard him say it. I mean, he’s just 8, when did he ever learned to use the word rotten to describe him? Isn’t he supposed to used it for fruits? I took a deep breath and instead of asking where he got the word and making a big deal out of it, I saw it as an opportunity for him to learn.
I redirected our conversation. I chose to remind him of something that will pick him up from how he was feeling. I told him, “Remember the time when you were absent and we had to ask my co-mommy the assignment? And because you don’t have the paper for the Performance Task (PT), we have to write it on a different sheet? The next day, you went home very happy because your teacher pointed you out as an example because you were resourceful and you submitted your PT, even if it was written on a different paper.”
I felt my son listen as I go on.
“Now I will give you choices: Would you rather continue to cry and think that you are rotten, or we will do what we did before?
He stopped crying and repeated what I said, as if it was his idea. He said, “so wait, I get it, we can ask someone what the assignment is so I can do it tonight and submit it tomorrow.” Of course, I obliged and made him feel that it’s his “aha moment.”
It’s difficult to be a parent. Imagine: one minute you’re mad and furious, the next minute you’re all too concerned and worried. One minute you want to hug your child to save him from all the negative things he’s feeling, the next minute you remind yourself to be firm so your child will learn. All of these happen so fast you don’t have time to check if you’re hungry, you’re tired, you need to shower or you want to sleep.
In my conversation with my son, I realized that pause is essential. While it’s true that we can’t pause our role in being a parent, we can pause for a minute to think about how we can turn a bad situation around. The pause made it possible for me to think of something that would encourage my son to go to school the next day without him feeling rotten. If I allowed my exhaustion and his crying to consume me, we would not have arrived at a solution.
That pause made all the difference in the world.
As we proceeded with our routine that night, I thought of asking my children a different question instead of our usual “What are you grateful for today?” In line with what happened, I asked them, “What lesson did you learn today?”
My daughter said: “I learned how to share with Sabina.”
My son said: “I learned that I should be responsible and resourceful… “
My son picked up his lesson. His answer ended with, “…and thank you mom for teaching me math.”
That’s when I told my children that in life, they only have two choices: to think of the worst or to think of a solution.
I asked my son, if you did not stop crying and you kept blaming and telling yourself that you are rotten, do you think your tears will help you with your assignment? His answer was no.
I told him the following:
It’s normal to feel sad but it’s important to think of things that will help you with your problem… and that they (my daughter included) should know when to ask for help and not just wait for people to help or rescue them.
I explained that I got mad because I want him to come up with his own solution. I wanted him to choose to believe in what he can do rather than think negatively, so that the next time this happens, he would know what to do even if we, his parents, are not around.
Then I told them that the reason why we always ask them what they are grateful for is because we want them to feel that they are loved… that even if sometimes they feel like there is something missing, they will be reminded that we as their family will always think of their happiness. There will be people and circumstances that will bring them down, but I want them to remember that we will be there to make them realize that they will always have a choice to walk away from the bad and think of what they are grateful for. This is what I want them to remember from our little “Pause and Think” exercise at night.
I got really bothered with how my son thinks but the processing I did that night is what I was grateful for. I’m definitely not saying that my parenting is correct, but there were two things that night that made me feel I did something right: when my children gave me a good night kiss, and when they told me they love me.
It was a difficult night, but it turned out to be a meaningful one for all of us. It was a time we all needed for us to learn the value of pausing, of choosing what will make us better persons, and of realizing who we always have during difficult times.
It’s Good Friday. Is the crucifixion a story of betrayal or a story of love?
Where do we fix our eyes?
When things go our way, where do we fix our eyes?
When things get difficult, where do we fix our eyes?
Rotten or resourceful?
Death or Resurrection?
Defeat or Hope?
I pray that this Holy Week pause leads us to choices that will help us move forward to the right direction.
May our dear Lord continue to bless you more and more, Neatropolis!