Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Children Gone Fishing....

The Chinese proverb goes:  Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime.  Well, a small altercation between the girls this afternoon seemed to imply that I could add a parental twist to update this old expression-- saying something like: Give your children fish and you will feed them for a day.  Give them time to fish and you will give them the ability to sustain long-term relationships exercised in love through reconciling sibling fish, while simultaneously saving mommy fish's energy by ensuring that the fish habitat remains ordered.  Or something like that.  I won't butcher the saying any further, but my experience this afternoon amounted to a lesson in fishing.

There was lots of housework waiting for me after a busy 4th of July weekend.  Laundry was first on my list of priorities.  So, I purposed to plop the girls in front of the TV ,to nourish them with a "Curious George" DVD, then --and with great determination-- to vanish up the stairs, and tackle the mountain of laundry flowing over the sides of the dirty clothes hamper.  About 15 minutes into my chore, I overheard a ruckus brewing between the girls downstairs.  

And then a few seconds later, a "MOM..., MOOOOOOOOOOOM????!!!" bounced off the walls of our narrow stairway.  Simone's cries for intervention grew louder and louder.  My first instinct was to plunge down the stairs to investigate the matter.  However, in that moment I experienced a hesitation kindled by what I can only describe as the Holy Spirit guiding me.  My repose could be measured by the hunched-over position of my spine as I eavesdropping on their candid argument. 

Normally, in a situation like this one I want to race down the stairs in an effort to avoid a more serious altercation, which is generally born out of these types of tiffs between the girls.  An overwhelming burst of adrenaline fuels the need to uphold a sense of order in the house. Certainly, ripples of discord is a true enemy to order in our small pond.  For this reason, I like to exercise a routine of rules reinforcement, followed by an allocation of consequences, and then wrap it all up with lots of love.  Yet in spite of this, I remained still.., and at the top of the stairs..,  and poised to listen.   

Ironically, amidst the disharmony there I found myself perched and a calm fell over me. A few minutes later there was an exchange of words between the girls, and then quietness. The arguing stopped, and almost immediately I heard God's voice clearly speaking to me.  His words were punctuated by a peace that overcame the whole house and it was literally fish food for my soul.  

He said, sometimes what's needed is not exacting judicial scrutiny, but rather an opportunity for the girls to work out their own differences.  In other words, I don't always have to be the instrument for conflict resolution.  It didn't matter who instigated the fight or whether rules were enforced (as is the status quo).  Rather what was most important was that they had an opportunity to work out their disagreement without my intervention. This idea seems so rudimentary as I journal about it now, but weighing it amidst the girls' dispute was a tough worm to swallow.

Reflecting over the matter, I can't say for sure what the girls discussed in the brief exchange that preceded the quiet, but of this I am certain:  Whatever transpired between them must of required a lot of love expressed through forgiveness, which is a learned quality.  Sadly, I don't often allow the girls either space or opportunity to practice what they've learned while working out their own differences.  I get so caught up in giving them fish, that I never afford them the opportunity to practice fishing by themselves.


Jewels said...

Dionne- once again I appreciate you being so transparent. You really are helping me learn how to be a better mom by sharing the struggles and lessons you learn. I a tucking all these lessons away for when Gianna and her future sibling get older. No I am not prego or trying just speaking figuratively.

Kristen said...

Oh this is SO true! I love the fish analogy. I am a total conflict rescuer with my two, and I need to give them the space to work it out!


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