Last night, as I came out of my pilates class with over-extended achilles tendons, I noticed a silver Volvo waiting at the traffic light. A dad was driving. He had two kids in the back seats and a tiny child in the front seat. I couldn't even see its face, just the tuft of its hair as it wriggled around. I found this oddly comforting. Okay, sure, it was a heinous breach of US notions of safety but it was also a rare glimpse into the reality of family life. We all fuck up. We all break the rules.
We recently had a family meeting. Now, in case this makes you feel defensive and compelled to sit your kids down to meet to keep up with us (hah!), relax. This is our first Family Meeting in about 7 years. Frost, Wren and I sat at the table in the kitchen and Joshua stood by a large whiteboard he had propped up across two chairs.
"What are our family values?" asked Joshua who, I suspect, was recently subject to strategic planning at work.
"What makes you happy and is important to our family?" I paraphrased.
At this point, Frost mysteriously fell off his chair. This happens to him from time to time, we are not sure how or why. I blame it on inattention and goofing but it is alternatively tragic and funny. This time it was just weird. After he picked himself up and sat down again Frost said "I don't want Mum to yell at me and nag me and shout at me."
Joshua and I parsed this into the value of "Family Harmony."
"We must also do the LOVE thing," said Wren. "Like, I LOVE to play D&D and I LOVE YOU."
Joshua added "and Love" to the first value.
"And I don't want you to pick me up on your shoulders," said Wren.
We defined that as to value of "Safety". Discussion continued for a while until we had the following values:
Harmony and Love
Order (clean and tidy)
Health and Fitness
Friendliness (with others)
Financial Security (This is important to me because with global warming and the ensuing climate driven chaos our children will need cash to buy GOLD and GUNS to survive in the wilderness.)
Home Improvement (Josh added this... perhaps it should be Secure Home or something like that since improvement in itself is not a goal).
At this point Frost stood up and absently wandered from the room.
"Where are you going, Frost?"
"Oh, I don't know..." he said.
"Well, come back and participate!" I ordered [perhaps this was yelling].
He sighed and slouched down but did not actually fall over.
As a result of lots more implementation of our goals I have somehow agreed to have 24 family movie nights in a year, read 6 chapters of a Pema Chodron book on "Working with Anger", Have FUN games, paint a dwarf Warhammer battalion and lose 15 lbs.
Isn't family goal setting great!
Anyway, however lofty our aspirations we probably all yell at times and sometimes sneak children places without proper restraint (but don't put them in the back of trucks like they do in South Africa) and try and eat Vegan at MacDonalds (oh, my, I actually felt guilty throwing away the MacDonalds cup while shopping at Whole Foods, I tried to crush it to obscure the logo).
Now, I have to run or I shall feel guilty about being late for Wren at preschool.
Yesterday I was about to sneeze from the sun. I get Sun Sneezes. I said "I am going to sneeze!" and Wren immediately grimaced, turned away and covered his face.
"What are you doing?" I asked when the sneeze subsided.
"I don't want to hear and smell your sneeze" he explained.
Another funny Wrenism yesterday was with the large jawbreaker Wren has been sucking since a movie on Sunday night. It is actually ALEX's jawbreaker, but he left it at our house and Wren took it, thinking it was Frosts. Now we have harmony because Wren has been sucking Alex's for a day and Frost has his own.
However, Wren does not call these jawbreakers. He calls them FACEbreakers.
"Where is my facebreaker?" he asks, hunting for the goopy remains of this size of a golf ball.