I was thinking that all want to be parents need to be warned that nerves of steel, patience of a saint, awareness of a Buddhist and self control of a yogi, are absolute necessities. Or, at a bare minimum, the creativity of a witch and the tricks of a magician.
If someone would have explained that to me, I would have thought twice before having children. I'm not saying that I regret having my children. Mine are two wonderful brats that I love with all my heart and thank to for the number of white hairs that adorn my head. But, before having them, I woud have first learned the above mentioned skills. Why? Because are needed.
Now... To give an example. We were driving to the school, or the driving was done by me, and the kids were more or less settled on the back seats. Seat belts on, my youngest daughter in one of those insanely expensive safety seats... For once, the car was quiet. No one was talking, everyone followed their own thoughts. i should have known that trouble was brewing. After nearly 9 year of parenting, I should have known. However, misled by a morning of peace where only love and nice words were exchanged in my house, I let myself be carried by the illusion that from now on, my kids learned how to get along. As soon as my brain formulated the thought, I hear:
"Give my pen back. I'm going to kill you!"
"It' myyyyyy peeen! I gave you mine!!"
Now, when my girls fight, the voices are so loud they could wake up the dead out of their graves. And sharp. I feel my inner ear vibrating in pain. Like that was not enough, soon enough fists start flying. I don't have nerves of steel. Actually my fuse is quite short. I'm totally lacking patience as well. Occasionally I have some self control and as I so nicely found out, I'm not always aware. Therefore, my first instinct was to do what I always do in these situations. Turn around, grab their hands and make then hug. But I could not do that as it would have caused an accident. So, quickly, I wondered what is one thing that my kids can't resist to. Music. They love music and singing along out of tune. So, I quickly put the radio on, and like dolls my kids start singing which is keeping their mouths busy and can't insult each other. Bingo. Ok, in order to achieve that, the music needs to be blasting, but that is a million times better then screaming from the top of their lungs.
So... Self control of a yogi... Did I mention that parenting is painful equally as much as it is a bliss, if not more? If not, it is done now. Parenting is painful. It starts with the labor contractions and never ends. Done wrongly, so is yoga. Given that I do that couple of times a week, I know. The only way to go through pain in yoga is by breathing deeply. Very deeply and very slowly. If you remember that, all is good and relaxing. However, I think that as a parent I need to breathe deeply, slowly, in and out, most moments of the day. Like when I find tiny bits of toilet paper all over the house, thanks to one of my kids' games. Or when I try to enter their bedroom and is impossible because piles and piles of clothes are all over the floor. The reason for that is either a fashion game or a moment of "I can't find my clothes". The worst was when my oldest daughter tried sewing and forgot to pick up the needles of the carpet. I did. With my bare foot. I can give plenty of examples, one more ridiculous then other. The only way to deal with it without losing my minds, is by breathing. Deeply and slowly.
Patience of a saint... That I was sure I totally lacked, and I still have doubts if it is there or not. Why do you need patience? Because, as a parent, you find yourself repeating the same things day after day. I thought about recording myself and just playing the tape in order to save my voice. It would be awesome if I could explain one thing to my kids only once. And yet, dinner after dinner, 7 times a week, they need explaining and demonstrating how to use the knife, and why. Or homework. Or picking up after themselves. Or why does it rain? Or why can't we eat chocolate all day long. Or why they need to get into bed at a certain hour. Most of these, need in depth explanations at least few times a week, every week, year after year. One needs plenty of patience not to scream and run away.
Nerves of steel... I find that it is very hard to see my children hitting each other without feeling the need to go in and hit both of them, for good measure. Or to deal with my nearly nine year old telling me she is in love and tried to shave her legs. Or to do any of the above without jumping through the roof. Therefore, I need good nerves.
Or perfect self control. Given that I am totally against hitting kids... I do need to control myself so the back of my hand does not fly on it's on...
The awareness is an absolute must because one never knows what their kids are up to. For example, few years back, I bought some CDs and tapes from my country. Now, I hardly ever visit my country anymore and what I buy from there is precious. As I was doing some work, at the time film producing, my daughter got stuck into my tapes. She tried to make me a surprise by unwinding every single one of them and making pretty knots. As you can imagine, it was a surprise that was very hard to appreciate. However, if I would have been aware of what my daughter was up to, it would have been easily avoided.
The creativity of a witch. Or an artist. Which ever one you prefer. That is for the necessity of figuring up very fast how can you push your kids in a different direction. Like when one of my daughters got stuck into my nail polish collection, and a collection it is, and decided to try and paint with it on the door. For damage control I had to figure really fast another activity that would have been more appealing for my artist of a kid. That is creativity used to the max. Hardly any is left for my job.
Pulling rabbits out of the hat... I don't wear hats and have no particular talent in pulling rabbits out of anywhere. However, it is useful to be able to achieve the impossible when one has kids. For example, in order to settle them down. The music in the morning, or any as such, are good examples. Useful... Often a necessity... But there is one more instance in which one needs to know how to pull rabbits... or anything else... For example, sometimes, as my income is dependent on finding clients, if I don't find enough of them, I'm short with money. I think that most of us can relate to that. And that day, when the budget is very tight, the beauty of the child, decides that will die instantly if they don't have a specific type of chocolate... or anything else... Ipods, laptops ad so on... Now, chocolate I can pull out of my hat offering to make some at home. The only solution to fix the other ones is either to say NO, which in my experience ends with screaming, crying, banged doors and "you destroy my life", or to find a way to satisfying that need. Most times, I say no and ignore the tantrum, even if I need to stick my headphones in my ears and put music on in order to not hear it. But are other times, when I either have to be creative in my explanations are promises, or pull the rabbit out. Usually that means borrowing my things to my kids for a period of time...
I just wish there was a book to explain all the above to me before I had children. I would have been so grateful! I would have had a career first, traveled the world, spent months in a yoga retreat, took whole bunch of seminars so I don't have to learn on the go, and then I would have had kids... And just maybe, I would have avoided half the situations I'm confronted with in this wonderful and non stop job of being a parent. LOL