I’ve never skateboarded in my life. And truth be told, I probably never will. I’m a very feet-on-ground person, as opposed to a feet-on-wood-with-wheels type. But this avid skateboarder was explaining to me the simple technique of skateboarding; you just ride it out. So if you’re going down a steep incline and you feel out of control, you just ride it out, let the skateboard do the driving.
I couldn’t help but envision myself zooming down some slope, screaming and flailing my arms and jumping overboard half way down. Like I said, it’s not my type of thing.
But that line kept repeating itself in my mind; it’s so simple, you just ride it out.
Because it’s so similar to parenting.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the tantrums and chaos of the moment when living amongst kids. There’s always something going on, unless they are all asleep. And it’s so easy to lose myself in the details; and it doesn’t end. It doesn’t solve the tantrum. It doesn’t solve the chaos, the cries or the havoc. It only fuels it; the more negotiating and threats, the more the havoc rages.
Because when I stop to think about it, the solution really is; just ride it out.
Ride out the tantrums. Ride out the brawls. Right out the chaos. Without getting caught up in the details.
Like this morning.
My husband does the early-early shift at 6am. I take the late morning shift, at the not-as-early-but-still-early time of 7:30am. But being that my bedroom is above the kitchen, I can hear lots of the morning fun. But that’s ok, because I don’t have to deal with it.
So at 6:50 there was my five year old crying at the top of his lungs that he wanted the curly spoon.
I knew exactly what was going on. My set of cutlery comes with a small spoon with indentations; I honestly have no idea what it is for. But I do know that somewhere along the lines one of the kids named it the curly spoon, and I also know it’s accountable for many morning tantrums in my house.
And there it was; 3 year old was using it, five year old wanted it and all I heard was the repetitive ear splitting cries of “I want the curly spoon!”
And on it went. I heard my husband calmly tell the boys to work out how to take turns. Five year old wouldn’t hear of it. His idea of dealing with it was to whack three year old. Well, curly spoon became three year old’s breakfast spoon.
And five year old kept crying.
And I knew there was only way this tantrum would end; ride it out.
And so I listened from the safety of my bed.
My husband calmly reminded him he can use it next, but he had to wait. And continued on with his morning stuff.
And the crying continued.
It took a while. But no threats and no long-winded rationalizing conversations. That would have been like jumping off the skateboard mid ride. There was nothing rational to discuss, nothing of sense to be explained.
And so my husband was just riding it out.
And then three year old brightly said, “I’m done, you’re turn!” and five year old happily started his cereal.
Just like that, the havoc was over (till the next incident…).
When I got downstairs at 7:30, you’d never know anyone had an unhappy start for the morning.
My initial instinct was; I am throwing that curly spoon in the garbage! Now! It’s caused enough chaos in this house!
But the truth is, that wouldn’t solve it. They’d find something else to fight over.
The main thing was how to deal with it.
It IS like skateboarding; sometimes the only way to deal with the situation is by riding it out.