While my boys generally get along well, like all siblings they sometimes squabble with each other. The other day when we were cleaning up my [then] three-year-old’s room to prepare for his birthday party, I found the above message on his shelf. It was clear he had taken the time to write something, but I wasn’t aware that he could spell (let alone write!) words other than his name, and so I wasn’t certain what – if anything – he was trying to communicate. Perhaps he was simply practicing letters?
I asked him what he wrote, and he said, “I wrote, ‘No! No! No!’” He continued, “I wrote it for [my brother]. It means: No yelling at me. No telling me what to do. No saying I can’t be in my own space.”
Clearly he had something to say to his brother. And, wonderfully, he realized – for at least the few minutes that it took him to write it – that he could communicate his feelings without yelling. (I don’t know about your children, but for my little guy that’s a big deal).
In our house we spend a lot of time talking about responding with kindness. Even when someone does something mean, we can show them love by answering with kindness. Even when someone acts inconsiderately, we can react with kindness. And by tapping into the love and compassion in our hearts before we reply, we can respond with intention and perhaps change the nature of the interaction.
Now, this is mostly talk, even – perhaps especially – for me. But it’s nice to see that 1) my youngest son is learning how to advocate for himself; 2) that my child can articulate his feelings; and 3) that sometimes, even if only periodically, he can think through his ideas before yelling at his brother with the first thing that comes into his head.
We’re all on a journey toward mindful living. We’re all learning how to live in peace and respond with love. And my boys continue to teach me and amaze me as we walk this road of everyday family living together.