We were late this morning. My daughter did not want to go to school. Can’t say I blame her. We all need a day off now and again from our routines, what’s tricky is making the judgement call about whether its time to push through the blocks, or drop the habitual.
I dropped the habitual. In a way. I didn’t scream or shout, or lose my rag. I used gentle persuasion mixed with empathy, some firmness and a relaxing of the normal rules of getting ready in the morning on a school day. We can always return to the rules, they’re not going anywhere. Returning is part of what makes things work and move sometimes, as Julie Tallard reminded me in her ‘Musings for Writers and Poets’ newsletter this week. It is a dogmatic clinging to the rules that can kill off their relevance. We have rules for the sake of creating rhythm and knowing where we stand, not for the sake of having rules in and of themselves.
Now eager to go to school, she raced ahead down the stairs to open the front door. And promptly locked herself outside. It was horrible for her, she was terrified. Being four years old and locked out of the house is a huge experience. She got lots of hugs and reassurance once I got to her. My listening ears, as opposed to my rushing head. Because now we were late for school and I had to make the choice to drop the front and obey the rule that we must be on time at all costs because otherwise we will lose face with the school. I got real; lucid if you will. We practice punctuality to create an orderly and centred life, not to impress upon others our good behaviour. And when things happen, we are required to respond to them one way or another. Because stuff comes up; deviations do occur.
In my initiation practice right now (read the ‘About’ section for more on this), I am being asked to question what rules I am following when I do things, and whether those rules actually serve what is required at that moment. I’ve been feeling down about the whole initiation thing recently, a bit lost in the woods (funny that!), even woke up this morning with a hollow feeling in my stomach, like what and where am I going with all this? But the practice gave me the tools this morning to drop the rules that needed to be dropped. To create a different kind of outcome for myself and the people I am looking after right now.
We walked to school gently, we did not rush. We talked about how being late is sometimes really OK, because things can happen. And when I explained, the school were fine. No big deal. I took her to her class myself. Afterwards I went to a cafe and had mushrooms on toast and a cup of tea while the baby had a sleep in his buggy. In the commotion of the morning I had forgotten my phone, so I wrote this post in my notebook. I was myself made to slow down; not multi-task in the way I can when I have my smart phone to hand. I observed the resistance I felt; how being busy can be a shield from being present with yourself as you are right now.
Anyway, happy February 29th. It really is a day to do things differently.