Saturday, July 28, 2012

The six things

Since I mentioned the great seminar I went to in this post, I have been trying to find my notes so I could accurately tell you the six things.  Finally remember what happened to them - they got thrown in the bin 8 months later when I cut out the discount coupon I needed from the back of the conference booklet and forgot that I'd written my notes in the middle.  So here, is the best I can do from memory:

1. Family holidays.  They went to the same town every year to see grandparents.  Not spectacular holidays but their children recently insisted on them all going again with such passion that they could see what an impact this regular trip made on the children.  I am not sure it was the holiday location or activities themselves so much as the shared memories of a regular family time together that were treasured.

2. "Do something wicked".  Every now and then, the mother would say, "Let's do something wicked!"  The "something wicked" was something that was extra fun outside of normal operating procedures like walking up to the fish and chips shop and getting hot chips to have for lunch or going somewhere on the spur of the moment.  Not predictable and not regular - just wicked!

3. Not caring too much about appearances.  When their son was in about Year 6, he wanted to grow his hair long.  He was a reliable, mature and helpful child.  He was school captain and a delightful young man.  Here was a kid who was doing well across the board and a blessing to be around.  So they let him.  And all through high school he had a hideous mullet that his brothers now tease him about.  But it was just the outside.  It was his way of standing out but it didn't come with a rebellious heart.  She said she was glad they had made the choice not to make a big deal of something that was only a matter of outward appearance.

4. Treating the kids differently as individuals.  Just because one got a new guitar didn't mean everyone else had to get guitar lessons or a gift of equal value.  They tried to look at each boy and what he needed and not just assume that what worked for one brother was right for them all.

5. Letting them know that nothing would change their love for them. The mum said that she used to play a game with the boys when they were young where she'd say, "You know, nothing will ever stop me loving you."  And one of the boys would say, "What if I burned down the house?"  And she'd reply something like, "Oh, I'd be very unhappy that you did that and it would cause a lot of problems, but I would still love you."  And then the boys would have fun coming up with more and more ridiculous scenarios to which she would reply that she would still love them.  As they grew older, they still told the boys, "Nothing you do will stop me loving you."  Then recently, one of their now grown boys made some seriously bad choices.  And he came home to tell his parents what he'd done and what was happening.  They were very grieved.  And they cried together and it was a painful time.  And then one of the parents said, "You know, this still doesn't change the fact that we love you.  Nothing you can do will stop me loving you."  And the son grinned.  He said, "That's exactly what I said you'd say."  He had told his mate that he was going home to tell his parents what he'd done and his friend had said, "You're crazy!  Your parents are really good people.  You can't tell them that!"  And he had told his friend exactly what they would say.  He had complete confidence in their love.

6.  And number six?  I'm sorry but I've forgotten.  I have a feeling it had something to do with how they approached church and their faith.

I can't do justice to the stories she told or the way she told them.  What really came across was the fact that she was a very ordinary mother, doing very ordinary things, and the warmth with which she reassured us that the details of how we mothered wouldn't matter so much as the big picture was really, really reassuring.  I remember trying very hard not to cry at the end because she was so very encouraging.  And I can't even remember her name!


Petrina said...

Thanks :) I'm very impressed that you got 5 out of 6 from memory.

Anonymous said...

Yes thank you - just simple things aren't they! Yet clearly made a diffence. Let us know if you ever remember the 6th! J