There was yelling this morning. And anger. Emotions running high. “HE TOOK MY CEREAL! I HATE HIM!” I held a new box of cereal up and shouted above the crying, “There’s plenty of cereal for everyone!!!” Kai stormed away sobbing. Ezra reached for the milk to pour it. I snatched it up. “I will pour for you. It’s too full,” I said a little too harshly. Crying, shouting and anger commenced again. I put the milk in the fridge and walked away to catch my breath. I am so not a morning person and waking up to a scene like this is hard for me to deal with. When I returned I saw Ezra sitting eating his cereal with milk. He looked right at me, “See, I can do it.” I walked away again to collect myself, still angry.
Kai was reading in his room. I went and sat beside him and rubbed his back. He was so angry and sad that his brother took his cereal. We talked about it. One thing that I think will help, Kai, is understanding that there’s enough for everyone, you don’t have to worry. You can have as much cereal as you want.
Then I went to Ezra. There was no reason for me to snap at him like that. When I grabbed the milk from him, the reality is I was grabbing for some sense of control in a difficult situation. And in doing so, I hurt him. I knelt down and looked him in the eye. “I’m sorry I didn’t trust you, Ezzy, you do know how to pour the milk.” He looked away and just continued eating. But, I needed him to understand what I was saying deep down, so I said it again right into his eyes, “I’m sorry I didn’t trust you.” He looked right at me that time and as our eyes connected he just threw his arms around my neck and hugged me tightly. In that embrace I could feel him saying, thank you for understanding me. Don’t you remember that feeling as a kid, wanting so badly to be understood?
As I walked away from that situation, I felt something so profound. And it took less than two minutes. Connection. Connecting heart to heart – with each other, with our Maker. How deep will we go? What sacrifice will we make to get there? Sometimes it feels so hard to make it happen – like there’s a chasm between us. But when it does, I can feel it. It’s something deep, bigger than me. It swells and fills my heart to overflowing and all-of-a-sudden everything’s different. I’m changed. And right there in my kitchen it happened – a small miracle. Or maybe these are the big ones.
So what about you? How do you maintain connection with your kids during tense situations?