A Foot in Two Canoes

A mom's declaration of independence and love

Merry Heart Medicine

I just read (for the third time) the following article How to Use Humor to Defuse Fights with Your Child.

Some of my main points to remember from that article:

“Learn to laugh at yourself.  … This is also something that we can model for our kids. … to refrain from taking themselves so seriously all the time … By doing this, you’re literally showing your child how to ‘laugh it off.’

“A question that can help your child:  ‘Wow, why are we arguing about something so small?’ … lightens the mood … gives some objectivity and perspective.  … You can calm things down by saying, ‘Okay, this is silly, huh?  …’ That way, you are modeling to your child how to change the mood and put things into perspective.

Focus on your child’s strengths. … a son who would argue and argue, no matter what was at stake … always had to have the last word … was exhausting …. ‘Man, someday he’s going to make a really good lawyer. I can just see him up there arguing in front of a judge. And the judge is going to say, “Oh my Lord, enough already!”‘” The mom didn’t share this with her son in that moment—he would have gotten defensive and angry—but it helped her put his behavior into perspective and have a moment of private amusement

Ask a question that could help me: “‘Will this matter in a few months or years?’ If the answer is ‘no,’ you can probably let it go after you address the situation  … recognize that it might be funny later on. It’s good if you can say to yourself, ‘Someday, we’re going to look back on this and laugh.’

“Use laughter to connect with other parents. …  it can be so helpful…. normalizes things, releases tension … lightens the load … in the movie Steel Magnolias, Dolly Parton’s character says it so well: ‘Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.’

“The point is, sometimes it’s good to just walk away. …  stepping back and …  looking at everything from an outside perspective. … finding the humor in the situation ‘saved me on many, many occasions.’

Right now this feels so important — Oooda flies in next week. Increasingly this last month, Oooda has been on an emotional seesaw, divorce or reconciliation.  I must keep my cool.  Scaramouch has raided her savings again (while on a trip to his old home state as he has said he’s leaving her).   Things may be coming to their next crisis, or he may be plying his manipulations again.

These are the times when the ODD fights flare up between Oooda and me.

I am her mother — I have wisdom for my daughter.  She is an adult — she can think for herself.  I am her mother — I know how to navigate Class 5 rapids.  She is an adult — she holds the rudder of her canoe even in the whitewater of life.

So, with a foot in two canoes, ODD and DA, I pray to stay afloat.  I look forward to hugging Oooda.  I want to focus on the good in her life and the good in our relationship.

But I know from past experience that she will ask what to do about the DA, and then ODD argue from her pain and stress and, yes, humiliation at finding herself in this situation.  I want to believe that some tiny bit of humor can make us laugh, at ourselves, at our micro focus, at something, anything silly outside of ourselves.

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”

If necessary, I pray for the presence of mind in either of us to step away to see the snow on the mountains or smell the carnations in the vase.


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