Tuesday, August 25, 2009

So, recently, as I was laying down baby Eva for a nap, I heard the suspicious sound of sticky giggles floating down the hall from the kitchen.

It suddenly occurred to me that after a breakfast of waffles, I had forgotten to put away the bottle of maple syrup. Crud muffins. After a quick effort to quietly run down the hall, managing mostly to sound like a sneaky elephant, my suspicions were quickly confirmed. Big puddle of maple syrupy goodness, with my delighted little toddler dipping her fingers into the sparkling amber lake and licking the sticky trickles off arms happily.

I did what every good mommy would do to keep from completely losing her cool. I grabbed the camera and made a happy, gooey movie.

(she's saying..."I poured maple syrup on the floor, just for funsies!")

I'll be the first to admit that I wanted to say some choice words and react in anger, initially. It's adorable to read about, and even charming to write about, but in the moment,I was mightily tempted to blow a fuse. Maple syrup is an expensive treat that we use sparingly, it's a pain in the back end to clean up off the floor, and it was the third thing my 2.5 yo had dumped in the past few days. I wanted to grind my teeth and shout at her, and scare her to death, honestly.

As luck would have it, something she'd said earlier that day stopped me. She'd been watching a mild "bad guy" movie with us this weekend, and afterwards, while talking about it, she snuggled down on the couch and said contentedly:

"There are no bad guys in our house. Our home is a safe place. I love my home!"

That little statement really stuck with me. Home is a safe place. A simple observation that rings true on so many levels. A good home is safe for it's occupants. A place where it's OK to mess up, where it's alright to cry, where a person can try their wings and crash and get up and try once more. There's a marvelous shortage of bad guys who might tell you you're not capable, tear you down, or hurt you spitefully.

In light of this, I'm making an effort to help our children take responsibility for their mistakes, and to also make home a safe place to learn that lesson. Correcting without shame is a learned skill for most humans, I think, but I'm in the midst of trying to learn how. If I can make a habit of gently correcting without sarcasm, shaming or intimidation, I think I'll be thrilled to find that I've tapped into the heart of "home".

Undoubtedly, it's going to take some time to fully get there, but I do believe that eventually, one maple syrup success with follow another, and eventually, we'll have a string of successes consistently following another like a pearl necklace. The language and tone of gentleness with start to feel less like marbles in my mouth, and I'll learn to speak "good guy" quite fluently. Hopefully, as it becomes habit for mama and papa (well, especially mama...my spouse is already quite good at it), gentleness will be set as the default tone of the home. As a lovely ripple effect, I suspect that kindness and laughter will drizzle on down the ladder of authority like golden honey. Correction will become sweet, as rebukes are much more precious from the lips of a safe person.

It's a super cool thing to be able to say, "My house is safe. There are no bad guys here." I'm all for that. <3


  1. You have no idea how much I appreciate this post!! I have 9 children and work with this type of situation ALL THE TIME:):):) I too want that to be the default tone that comes out of my mouth...and it doesn't come by itself without some conscious effort on my part!

  2. thanks for this, ash. it is a needed reminder, and your patient parenting is inspiring. i am NOT a naturally patient person, and this has been my biggest parenting dilemma :/ you always manage to challenge & encourage me simultaneously in this area ;)