Sunday, July 29, 2012
Last week my seven-year-old daughter Lucia woke up with a 14-year-old's attitude. She was snarky, mean, uncommunicative, aloof. I spent the morning alternating between attempts to coax her out of her mental misery and distract her into another mood. Neither tactic worked. She sat on one couch reading her book; I sat on the other couch reading the paper. Whenever we made eye contact Lucia would make an indignant grunt like my very existence was causing her physical pain.
I couldn't really focus on the article I was reading. I was over-analyzing Lucia's mood, wondering what dastardly parenting faux pas I'd made to create this behavior, but then I took a breath and did what my therapist advised, I tried to remember what it was like when I was her age. And it all came back. I remember it so clearly. I'd get in a mood and hold onto it like it was the last life preserver on the Titanic. No matter what my mother said or did, I was committed to my mood. It was mine and I wouldn't give it up.
I called Lucia over to my couch and told her I wanted to try something I'd recently read about in a parenting book. I told her that we were going to set the timer on my phone for two minutes and meditate. Lucia, always game for a challenge, agreed. I imagine she was thinking that she'd "win" at this game with Mommy.
I instructed Lucia to put one hand on her heart and the other on her belly, to close her eyes and just breathe for two minutes. At the end of the two minutes, I asked her to tell me what she felt. "Not what you thought, honey, what you felt." Lucia couldn't do it. It was too abstract, too vague. I told her she'd done great. She said she'd like to do it again sometime, and she went back to her couch.
I assumed that the two minutes hadn't done anything for Lucia. But the two minutes had definitely helped me. I felt better, lighter, less encumbered with Lucia's mood. About twenty minutes later, Lucia looked at me with her beautiful smile and said, "You know what Mommy: I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, but now I'm better." And she was. Those magical two minutes had helped Lucia to relinquish her cranky mood and move on to a different one. Joy for me! Joy for her!
I told my yoga class the next day this story about Lucia. "It's like Savasana," I said. "When you're stuck in a bad place in class, during Savasana take a break from thinking, and just feel. This will allow you to clear your mind and move on to a new perspective."