Thursday, May 27, 2010

Constancy, consistency and the wisdom of youth

The neighbour has not moved out, or moved on. I've been summonsed to the Disputes Tribunal and seeing as it's only a quasi-judicial arena I can bone on about it without fear of such matters being sub-judice and off limits for public consumption. Except that it bores me. Prone to exaggeration and not one to ever let the truth interfere with a dramatic retelling of a perfectly mundane event, I shouldn't complain. But when the neighbour writes that for a year she has 'consistently and constantly' asked me to replace her plants I get a little bit cross. How many times would she have to have spoken to me to qualify for the c&c tag? More than once I'm picking.

Dr John Gottman became famous for his ability to spend 10 minutes listening to a couple talk and predict with amazing success (somewhere near 90%) whether they would still be married in a few years time. One of the death knells? Universality of judgemental criticism. 'You ALWAYS interrupt me. EVERY time I try to tell you how I feel you walk away. You NEVER hold me.' If any of these statements were true, the couples should get divorced. But of course, that's not how it works. In emotional situations we overstate, exaggerate, and sometimes tell lies that feel true but aren't. I frequently sign cards 'all my love' which isn't true. Nor is 'you are always in my thoughts'. Let's start a Truthful Communication in Card -Writing Club. "I thought of you today, for the first time in ages, and while you are not even in my top ten list of best friends, there was a time when we were close and I would like to stay at your bach next time I'm in Raglan so hopefully this card will do the trick."

T has missed something reasonably important from his science unit at school this week. The point. I have missed the point of parenting too in the subsequent fall out but I'm not sure I could behave any better the next time around:

T: We're doing a Science Fair at school Mum and X is my partner and we've decided what our project is. A wooden toaster.


You see, I wisely said nothing. Just waited.

T: We're going to get four bits of wood and make a toaster. The question we are asking is 'what would happen if there was no electricity?' And our answer is, 'we'd just have to eat raw food.'


You see. Can't speak. On kitchen floor exploding with laughter, tears rolling down face.

Somewhere the point of experimentation and figuring things out has been lost. Instead my boy, of whom I am enormously proud, has solved the problem by showing all the qualities that have been drummed into him from birth. Resilience, make the best of every situation, deal with what's in front of you without complaint. Eat your raw onions and be thankful. Plenty of people have NEVER had a raw onion for dinner and you don't hear them moaning about it do you?

Once he'd got over the meanness of me laughing at his idea he explained that their project was going to consist of the aforementioned wooden toaster with a wire running from the wood to the wall. This would illustrate to everyone what would happen if there was no electricity. Nothing. Nothing would happen. The bread would stay bread and there'd be no peanut butter on toast for breakfast. Just peanut butter on bread. Maybe he's on to something. Maybe not every problem needs a new fix. Maybe it's not even a problem.

P, on the other hand is preparing for school. She was very slowly doing an alphabet matching game today, finding the lower case and upper case letters and pairing them up. Jeepers, thought my mum who was on nana duty, what's taking her so long? "I'm doing it backwards Nana. Starting at Z." Go on, try it. Say the alphabet backwards. Can't do it can you? You have to go forwards before you can go backwards. Why is that? And what's the metaphorical takeout?

At her last kindy visit our family, except J who's in the States, will be there to celebrate her last day. My mum and dad, C and T, and Lesley who's been our Nanny for 8 years. I've asked P what happens and she's explained in great detail who sits where and the whole rigmarole. The best part she says happens near the end. "Then I get sunged to." How cool is that? When was the last time you were sunged to?

My wish for my family today is that they will be consistently and constantly loved all their lives, and for this to be true, not greeting card true, but truly true. And I wish that whenever they are without power both physically and metaphorically they have people who will sing with them while they peel their onions.

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