It started a few months ago. Our eldest son came home from daycare saying some very strange words. That little four year old came home saying words like Optimus Prime, Megatron, and (okay, this isn’t so strange) Bumblebee. My wife and I were left to wonder, “Where did he learn to say those words?”
Of course, daycare was to blame.
Our son’s best friend loves Transformers. He brings his Transformers to school where he and our son play with them – a lot. In fact, Transformers are their favorite toys.
(Who, btw, was the genius who thought of Transformers? And how did he make that sales pitch? “C’mon guys! Trucks and cars that change into robots coming to earth from outer space! It’ll work!!!)
I later asked his dad about Transformers. He very proudly told me that he saved all of his Transformers from his childhood and that he is now passing them along to his sons.
Well, his son passed along the joy of Transformers to my son.
And that’s how human desire works. We borrow desires from one another. My son had never heard of Transformers before his buddy brought them to school. And now he loves them.
So, we bought our son a green Transformer for Christmas. Why a green one? It was cheap. We went on a family vacation last weekend and bought him Optimus Prime. He loves it. Of course, on the drive home every two minutes he asked me to change it back into a truck. Ugh.
This morning, though, we had a bit of what my wife and I like to call a “meltdown.” It started with our son asking his mother if they could go to the store and buy Bumblebee. “No” was the response.
After that, my Wife had to get ready for work. So, I was left to deal with a screaming child. I tried to be rational. “Why are you upset?” I asked. “Mommy said no!” He responded. “Well, you can’t always get what you want.” I love that song, and invoke it frequently, but, unfortunately, this time it didn’t work. “NOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” And he went off screaming and crying.
Well, as he became increasingly emotional, so did I. I became frustrated. I needed to get him and his brother dressed, but it was impossible. I couldn’t control his wiggly body. He didn’t want to get dressed, so he pushed me away, which only frustrated me more. I took a deep breath and walked away.
Because, there’s no winning a power struggle with a four-year old.
As I look back upon the incident, I realize that the same principle of desire works with emotions. We borrow desires from one another, but we also borrow emotions from one another. I borrowed my son’s frustration and our mutual frustration escalated. We were trapped.
Borrowed desire can make us all feel like a four year old.
He pushed me away, and was completely right to do so. We both needed some alone time.
Fortunately, my wife soon came to the rescue. She calmed us both down. Her presence was soothing. She told our son that if he saved up his money, he could soon buy Bumblebee. That was enough to calm him down. She told me I did the right thing by walking away.
My son and I are lucky because my wife is good at creating alternatives. We got trapped in an escalating situation and needed to be shown another way. She was able to transform (I couldn’t resist) the situation by modeling a calming presence, which was a presence my son and I could both borrow.
Yeah. That’s good parenting. That’s my wife.