Last time we talked it was something about surviving and/or thriving. I babbled a bit about the how's and why's of getting along with yourself and with others. Learning lessons. Hurting feelings. Standing up for yourself. It is still confusing to me, this tension between telling your truth and "being nice". What do you do when life isn't fair? What happens when you are being oppressed by the insensitivity of others? How do you proceed when what you need is going to tread on somebody else?
Let's get into it.
I have children. They interact. They get along mostly. Sometimes somebody gets punched or kicked or body slammed. We are not overly violent around here but we do get rowdy.
When it comes to the boys I tend to let them work things out. I believe in pack order. It helps you learn how to survive.
Sometimes tho, the warfare is psychological. That kinds usually hurts worse. Still, survival is a big deal.
Just the other day I instructed a younger brother to thank his older brother for tricking him out of five bucks.
Story goes that big brother offered to pay whatever change he had in his room in return for little bro doing some chore. Something might or might not have been said about the possibility of there being five dollars in change.
Turned out that number was grossly exaggerated.
Nobody counted the change until the job was done. What are ya gonna do?
Parents were consulted. A fair settlement was sure to be had. Mom? Dad?
You gotta learn these hard lessons in life son. Be thankful that it was your brother that gave you this lesson in the dangers of being gullible (instead of some stranger on the street).
Right or wrong, that little brother now knows the term "show me the money" and he knows when to use it.
There was nothing fair about that. Not if you think we should have come to the rescue and made big bad brother cough up the dough.
Big brother got his lecture about kindness and honesty. But he also knows that we value his contribution in the raising of this family. We are well aware that his contribution might not always be on the up and up. He has his boundaries and he mostly stays within them although sometimes he does apply some creative restructuring to those lines. Sometimes a lesson learned the hard way is learned the best way.
Think about that what you will.
For the record, little brother did get to have his say. Speak his truth. "this really RIPS!" was hollered and whined throughout the evening.
And then it was over. But it will be remembered. He survived. I can't honestly say that his spirit was honored. But, would it have been an honor to have received his reward by bringing down his brother?
Was he better served in learning this lesson and growing stronger in the process? I think yes.
Now let's look at an if.
IF he had been stronger, faster, smarter (as in street smarts) he could have honored his own spirit and stood up for himself. He could have spoken up when he smelled the rat. He could have refused to do the work. He didn't. He didn't know any better. He had to learn. The hard way. I am glad it was his loving (cough, cough) brother that was there to teach him.
In our house we get many other loving lessons. Siblings are ready instructors. For instance, nobody can teach self defense like a brother. Mind you, self defense lessons look like torture to the untrained eye. (I am not gonna lie to you, self defense quickly turns to torture so beware) Keeping my parental wits about me is a struggle at times but well worth the effort when I see my youngers learn to slough off enemy attack and give it right back. I love those underdogs.
One underdog that sometimes needs help is the princess.
Baby sister can scrap with the best of them but there are times when she ends up on the wrong side of the dog pile. We try to watch out for that. Mom has declared a no pile zone where the bruiser brothers are concerned. They don't try to injure. They just can't help themselves. So, no piling on the princess. Still, if the odds are more evenly matched a wrestling match does occasionally occur with baby sister as the target. This is allowed, but closely monitored.
Standing rule at our house...say "stop" if you want them to stop. If they don't stop you have the right to use force to get them off you. Hitting, kicking, biting...whatever.
I feel very strongly about this. I want to equip my children, especially my girls, to be able to defend themselves forcefully if need be. It doesn't happen often but there have been a few times when somebody got hurt because they did not respond to the verbal "stop". Too bad for them.
Listen better next time. Another great lesson learned the hard way.
This method seems to work for us. Except for two specific instances.
One problem that seems to be popping up lately is that we forget to say "stop" before we pummel.
This almost never turns out good. The pummeler gets a lecture about giving a warning. The pummelee gets a lecture about sensitivity and learning to back off before it gets so serious. Nobody likes a lecture. Especially if you're the one who just got kicked in the shins.
We are still learning.
Another problem comes when someone says "stop" but they are laughing, or gasping for air, or some such thing in such a way as their "stop" cannot or will not be heard.
This is a serious issue.
How do you get your "stop" heard?
I think we all need lessons in this.
This brings me back to the beginning... How do you proceed when what you need is going to tread on somebody else?
I believe, and trust me, this is a new stance for me...I believe that you have to man up and go on ahead and tread.
Yell. Hurt some feelings. Punch somebody right in the nuggets.
Then sometimes you run. Get away and never come back.
But sometimes...oftentimes...more times than not, after knocking their block off physically or verbally you gather them up in a big hug.
Because more times than not, the perpetrator is your big brother that loves you more than sunshine. Sure, he is a big stinky jerk-wad that totally ignored your need. But that is the way it is in families.
Relationships...the best and closest ones...are rife with traumatic moments where you said stop and they didn't, couldn't or wouldn't hear you.
You need to stand up for yourself. It is ok to take up space. Your voice matters.
Say what you need to say and love them more than you want to kill them. It will smooth out.
I am not in any way addressing abuse situations here. Those are the ones where you punch and run.
No niceties necessary.
My message is for people that get so used to being dog piled that they forget they even have a voice. It is so easy to feel like the world and all your loved ones are dogging you to the point that you pummel first without warning...or you just remain "victim" because you can't seem to make your needs known.
You need to stop that.
You have my permission to stop being so nice.
Do you see the hidden tiger, crouching dragon response here? Be nice. Understated. Ladylike.
But take good care of your inner fierce. Do not starve it to death. Do not shame it into submission.
It is valuable to you to use your dragon breath and tiger claws to defend yourself and others.
It is good for you. Needful.
Caution is needed tho. Feed your fierce with love, not hate. Compassion and honor raise strong healthy warriors. Spite and frustration fuel venomous beasts.
Stand up. Speak up. Love up most of all. Don't wait any longer.
Tune in next week for lessons in not being hateful and spewing on people because you held it in too long.