More about "Aramascus and the Flower"
A typical conversation that never occurred in our family:
“Well, children, what would you like to do today?”
“I don’t know.”
“You want to go to the park? Maybe we could go to the Mall? We could just stay home and read. What do you want to do?”
“Let’s go to the Mall!”
“What do you want to do there?”
“I don’t know. Why do you want to go to the Mall.”
“I don’t want to go to the Mall, not if you don’t want to go. So what will it be?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, make up your mind. I’ll give you three seconds to decide. The park? The mall? Or what? And stop pinching your sister’s arm!”
“She started it.”
“I did not! He kicked me.”
“That’s a laugh!”
“If you don’t behave, we’re not going anywhere.”
“I don’t care.”
“Come back here. You come right back here this instant or you are grounded for the day!”
“So ground me.”
That’s a conversation that could never occur in our family! It was literally impossible. It might go something more like:
“So children, today is Saturday. You all know what we do on Saturday. Be sure your beds are made really well today. Once you’ve dusted and vacuumed your rooms you may go out. I see the Daniel boys are already waiting for you on their bicycles. After an hour I’ll tell you what we’ll do.”
“What is it? What will we do?”
“In an hour I’ll probably know.” She laughed. “The quicker you finish your rooms the quicker you can go out.”
There is a predictable amount of bustle, bed changing, sweeping and coughing in the clouds of dust. Character will always dominate as one is finished first, the same one each time. One had to wait for the vacuum to be available, and one, also the same one, will have gotten lost in a book and needed some pushing by the others.
“Are you all done?”
“Come on (no name) why are you always the last?”
“Tell us what we’re going to do?
“I’ll call you in an hour.”
Well, this is only a fragment. What happens before is that a picture of the structure of the day lives already in the mind of the parent, Ruth. She already knows what is going to happen, in general terms. Why? She feels it her responsibility to form such a picture the night before. That way doubt and uncertainty does not hover in the air.
Of course, sometimes events interfere with our picture and then we need to be flexible and creative. Deciding what happens is still our responsibility, before it happens, not after. As the children grew older, we recognized their developing maturity and created windows for them to practice deciding what to do.
Until then we decided. The other kind of discipline is never necessary if loving authority provides structure.
Now that I think of it, asking children what they want to do too early, before they have the mental and social equipment to make such decisions is likely to make them confused later on when they really have to decide such matters. It belongs as the primary question for a human being after the age of about 21 when “What do you want to do” blends with “Who do you want to be?” So many young adults don’t feel certainty in themselves about how to approach the big questions. Who do I want as a partner? What sort of work suits me best? Where should I live? What do I believe in? How do I navigate through time?
These questions don’t have abstract answers, the answers arrive out of confident living. For our family, structured childhood with lots of free play, and lots of stories and reading together leads eventually to confident living.
I hope “Aramascus and the Flower” will be one of the stories in your family.