Yesterday I heard a bit of parenting advice that made me want to weep. "Catch them being good" was the simple phrase uttered from a former special education teacher. Whoa. So very simple. So incredibly profound.
Parenting is unbelievably hard work. The hardest. Disciplining your child-- that little sprout that grew so patiently in your belly, the person who depends on you so fully-- is imperative. And painful. Sometimes it can feel like crushing their little spirit, breaking their fragile heart. Constructive discipline is also what's going to help your child grow up to be a pain in the ass or an asset to society. So when I heard "catch them [kids] being good," it was like I was hearing in 10th grade geometry that I could get an A simply by liking parallelograms.
With Lucia, I feel like I catch her doing good often-- at completing her daily reading, at brushing her hair, at practicing piano. These are all things Lucia enjoys so it's not a big deal to note her success with these chores. Other realms-- not interrupting grown up conversation, unloading the dishwasher, hanging up her bathrobe-- are all tasks that Lucia resists. Because of her chronic opposition compliance in these areas, I have developed a narrow lens that sees only the negative when it comes to these responsibilities. Rarely do I note when Lucia proactively does these things. Note to self--- catch her doing good.
I realize in this whole examination of my parenting that one of the reasons I love teaching yoga is how many opportunities I have to catch students "being good." The student who used to leave the room like clockwork to fill his water bottles who now fills two before class. So good. The student who can finally look at herself in the mirror for a full posture. Excellent. Two shoulders in one line. Yes! If I noted in each class how many ways students were being good, I wouldn't be able to teach the nuts and bolts of the class. I have so much gratitude that I get to watch this goodness every day.
Why is the goodness more challenging to catch in my role as a parent? Maybe it is because I have only one child and it's all on her. She's the good, the bad, the everything. As a kid, I was one of several, so there was more to look at, more to compare. It's a good lesson for me. Yes, I need to be firm with Lucia. I want to create a good, solid form in which she can grow to be a person that I am proud of; that she is proud of. At the end of every class I teach, I say goodbye to all the students, one final check in of our time together. On their faces, almost always, I can see that they feel good. They feel proud.
Most of the time it's the experiences in my daily life that I turn into helpful lessons I can impart in my role as a yoga teacher. Catching the goodness is something I learned in the yoga room. Thank you students for teaching me!