According to Finding Nemo...

Up at at 5:30. It never fails, when they are sick or in need of the most rest they are the hardest to put to sleep at night and early risers. Go figure. So BuddyRoo asks for cereal first thing in the morning... in such an urgent tone.  There is no assuring him you're getting the cereal, that the soy milk carton in your hand is truly going to be poured on the cereal, or that the bowl it is in will really suffice until the whole ensamble is sitting right in front of him, with spoon in hand. "I'm so hungry Mom", he asserts. Then it's on to making coffee for myself. And oh that magical moment when my mug has cooled enough... thereby allowing me to literally chug coffee.

Soon he's on the couch and I've given him the iTouch. This is a bad habit that will soon be nixed when school is over for Sidekick. I do this because I can not play first thing in the morning with BuddyO. I just have to wake up before being a Dragon, Cow, or Train. Plain and simple. There isn't the possibility of playtime to the degree he wants without lots of noise on his part. I figure if Sidekick is still sleeping, well he needs it, and keep Little Brother quiet with any means. So I give in and hand over a device.

This morning he's content to watch an old favorite, Finding Nemo. Now I love this movie. I think it's probably my favorite animation at this point, able to still make me smile regardless of how often I've seen it. So I lay there on the couch cuddling him, trying to fall back asleep and I'm listening to Crush, the turtle. I knew Crush was new age and all Zen but I had never just really listened and applied it to my life. 

So here it is, parenting a la Finding Nemo movie:

Timing is Everything

Both for parents and children. As parents we need to step back more, let go more, let the moments happen organically and our children really be in charge of the situation. Marlin is always worried if Nemo is "ready" to do things. This only ever translates to a child as "why don't they believe in me or trust me?" Children don't need helicopter parents and a play by play layout of how to climb the jungle gym. They do need a parent who will stand by and say, "Go ahead, figure it out. Try it". Set limits on what is safe and not safe at the onset. Convey your expectations clearly as situations arise. There is a time to offer words of wisdom, but for the most part a parent can and should set their child up to succeed and then let it happen on it's own. Great evolutionary parenting, or attachment parenting, would suggest that the timing of parent's perspective, our ideas, or changing the dynamics in their moment, should be limited and for safety reasons (ie stopping our child from hitting another child). To the same effect we can not push our children past their own self-imposed comfort levels. There are varying degrees of this based on the child's age and what they are truly capable of. But there are ways of letting the child explore almost anything, or any situation, that is led by them and yet feels "safe" to us as parents. 

As for me, realizing the patterns, both in each individual child I have, and in their time interacting together as siblings, has really helped with my own timing and intervention. Now I know the times of day they need my involvement more, some quiet time connecting with me one on one, the focused attention when I really hear them for 5 minutes can make all the difference in the world. There is only so much a little spirit can hold at any one time before they need to pass that energy to someone else. Either it will be constructive as dialogue, drawing, building, or it will be negative like hitting, screaming, or "disobedience". Then their dynamic together. It is essential for me to be attentive and know when they've reached their max on "together time". If I'm really on top of it I can swoop in before they starting fighting and redirect them both into something new and fresh. 

Hindsight is 20/20

I don't know where I came across it in life but I love this thought: consider your batting average in a situation. If you think about baseball players they are judged on their averages over time. Many opportunities, and how they weigh out collectively. 

In Finding Nemo, everything that the father, Marlin, needs, he eventually just "stumbles" upon. He needs the East Australian Current, and through mishaps he's safely on Crush, the turtle's back, traveling the EAC. 

I try and bring these two thoughts intentionally into my days. That what I need as a woman, wife, mother, I've already set in motion through intention and interaction with the Universe. There aren't many parenting fails or tantrums that can derail it. Also, that it isn't an hour by hour, nor day by day assessment of me as a parent or my children as they develop that matter. Instead a kinder view of my own batting average with situations. 

So in Finding Nemo, with hindsight, Marlin gets just what he needs, a better relationship with his child. I think that's what we are all striving for at the heart of it. Not that this always works or that tantrums and disagreements don't suck, because they do! But when a new one occurs I can realize, in the thick of it, that not only does this have a purpose, to connect myself and my child, present an opportunity, but that it is going to gift us with something at the end of it. That collectively all the difficult moments average out to be challenges met, faced, overcame, and move us forward as a family with a better understanding of one another.

Be A Dory

Dory is nothing if not optimistic. This is the Golden Rule of parenting. Just keep swimming. I think one of the hardest things about parenting is there is no finish line. There is no way to really know what impact your efforts, your choices, your successes and failures will have collectively. As a species though our batting average is pretty good. We have to trust that if we are the kind of parent that is out there searching for new methods to improve on the old, exploring ideas, holding conversations all about raising children that, on average, we are improving as a society. There will always be setbacks, both as a collective and individually, but the point is to try, try, try again. There is always a chance to get it right the second time around. I think it is safe to say that as adults we've seen people in our lives, or experienced the phenomenon personally, that if you don't deal with a situation, if you don't evolve and move forward in a positive direction, life will keep giving you the same scenario. That is true of our interactions with our children and our own growth as parents. If you find yourself struggling, if you find the same hardships continually spring up, perhaps it is time to approach the curveball a bit differently, to vary your stance. Be a Dory, take a deep breath, meet your child with compassion, or yourself with compassion for that matter, and try again. 



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