I'm reminded of one of my very favorite chaos stories. It is a true one that happened about 11 years ago when I was a nanny. My charge and I were making cookies. Robert was young enough to sit on the counter and watch, but not exactly help, as I measured and mixed the dry ingredients. I turned my back and in the split second that I lost my focus I heard a tiny little voice say, "Look, Mer Mer, it's snowing."
Snowing? We live in Florida.
I turned back around and was engulfed in a cloud of flour. Robert, who was wearing navy blue pajamas was a blur of white. Indeed it was snowing, right there in the middle of the 90 degree kitchen. Snowing flour. Unlike a blinding snow storm that could have sent me into a -less-than-Mary-Poppins-like conniption (I have snow issues, I admit it!), all I could do was smile and head for cover.
I learned that day, that sometimes, in the middle of a what looks like a great big mess, one can find humor, make lasting memories and not fall to pieces. A life lesson for sure. One I wish I had been aware of when my own kids were little.
Knowing about the chaos theory and remembering it when I need to are often two different things. After several phone calls from KW Johnny, my heart was aching for him and for the girl who seemingly overnight turned into the devil character of Exorcist fame. I am pretty sure some of the words she spewed out were coated with green vomit and felt like a punch in the gut to anyone they hit. I don't doubt that the head of the girl we still think of as an innocent child was spinning around as she shouted obscenities. Even if it is true that the apple doesn't fall too far from the family tree it is sad to discover that paybacks can be painful.
Bottom line, when your child is acting out everybody hurts. Moms, dads, grandmoms, granddads and aunties wring their hands and want to make things better fast. While the creation of a responsible adult may be taking place in the middle of this chaotic adolescent storm, all we can do is set boundaries and hold battan down the hatches.
When I picked This Blessed Mess of my bookshelf, I also happened upon its companion book - Let the Light In. (A Godwink?) I haven't read it yet, but it is next on my list. I think there will be much wisdom for this Grammy to ingest. An online review of the book talks about reframing; Looking at life's negatives in a different, more positive way. Kind of like that whole lemonade thing but without the sarcasm. My friend, Terri St. Cloud, talked about reframing at her blog recently. (Hmmm .... God sure seems to be doing a lot of winking in my direction.)
Here's a reframing example from a Let the Light In book review: "Father Demetrius Dumm, a Benedictine scripture scholar who speaks of David in the Bible as a man of hope. When the young man spots the giant Goliath on the battlefield, instead of saying, 'He's so big, how can I possibly defeat him?' David says, 'He's so big, how can I possibly miss him? What a target!' Instead of giving in to negativity, we can reframe what is happening and face it with positive energy." *
Now the question(s) for me would be, how can I re-frame some of the negatives I've heard lately into positives?
1. A heart that is broken could be instead a heart that is growing. Once the hurt is gone there will be lots more room for love to fill in the space.
2. An angry teen could be a new source of energy instead of someone you are afraid you'll see on America's Most Wanted. Just think what you'd have if you could harness the anger of teens all over the country. The air around the car might be blue with profanity, but the car would use less gasoline, thus diminishing the country's dependence on foreign oil. Hell, there are enough angry teens to make enough profane-fuel to warrant a resurgence of GM cars. And if you are worried about global warming imagine how many icebergs could be refrozen if the cold, icy stare that teens flash at their parents could be trapped and utilized for good rather than evil. I may be on to something, what do you think?
3. I think it is much easier to re-frame someone else's chaos than my own. So far when my Dad says mean things to me, they still feel like mean things. I've got to work on this. In the mean time (no pun intended) I'll keep looking for that fairy godmother or more Florida snow.
May all your storms be wrapped in a rainbow,
This Blessed Mess, pg. 20
*Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/books/books.php?id=15523