Car journeys can often and quite regularly are the cause of much tension, arguments and even violence in our rather large household. I am not talking road rage here. No. I’m referring to what chaos ensues inside the vehicle when our six personalities embark on a road trip together. The time and destination seem to have little relevance. I can only conclude it must be to do with personal space. (Or more to the point in our case, lack of). Or possibly too much testosterone (not such a lack) we are boy heavy, even our new edition to the family (Sarg, the Hungarian Vizsla) is male! Maybe it’s the incompatibility of our star signs? Maybe the roosters just can’t get along with the rabbit and the dog wants to bite horse? My first born has the good sense to drown out the mayhem with an I phone filled with gangster rap! (Which maybe marginally less offensive)! It’s not always painful. We have moments of fun reminiscent of carpool Karaoke; singing along with Justin Bieber and passing around the Fruitellas. But in the intimacy of confined spaces as a family, we sometimes struggle.
During one particularly excruciating journey (think we were off to Asda) one of my lovely children in the back decided to torture us all with his foul mood. Trying to drown him out with Coldplay cranked up (surely Chris Martin feeling drunk and high has got to lift the spirit) wasn’t working, closing my eyes and going within (yes I am having a laugh, although I have to try) and focusing on my breath was not a viable solution at this point either. Instead, I decided to bestow onto him and my fellow passengers some Buddhist teachings! Obviously, I am no expert; but four years of visiting my local Buddhist centre for a Wednesday meditation, a lesson in what Buddha says (well actually what Steve says Buddha says) and a nice cuppa and luxury biscuit from Marks& Sparks (they are blessed it’s rude not to) must count for something????
Number three child can’t help it. He has fire star sign, a fire moon sign and a mane of fiery hair. He should have come with a highly flammable warning sticker. He eagerly and rapidly entered the world, giving me just enough time to throw my knickers at my husband and push him out; at the time I declared l “IM NEVER HAVING ANOTHER BABY” (which I did)! And he delights in the fact that he was indeed my most painful delivery. He screamed his head off for the first eight months of his tiny life and has somehow managed to moan his way to puberty. He has by far tested my patience to the limit; He is what Buddhist monks might refer to as my treasure. In their opinion patience is the highest of virtues and with the help of No.3 surely I’m up there with the saints. This all sounds rather negative I hear you say (not very Buddhist at all). He is extremely vocal and temperamental and hot headed and emotional, did I mention ANNOYING. He is also honest and real and sensitive and kind, inquisitive, funny and has deep empathy and understanding and wisdom beyond his years. He shows you the good the bad and the ugly. (He saves it for us) and that my friend is love.
There is a song by Labrinth and Emeli Sande called ‘Beneath your beautiful’. It makes me emotional. Would you let me see beneath your beautiful? Would you let me see beneath your perfect? Asks the singer. Would you, do you? No.3 does. He lets us see. For that I am grateful. It makes me love him all the more. Isn’t it strange how we can only ever really be ourselves (warts and all) with the people that we love the most? And I mean really love. And trust. Holding nothing back, not filtering. Saving the very best edited version of ourselves for random strangers, colleagues and acquaintances. It’s fear that holds us back. It is difficult to be vulnerable, to show the ugly. Pretty is better. We are so much more comfortable with pretty. My eldest children are more private and reserved, controlled and secretive as I was at their age. Everything is fine. They joke that their brother is borderline by polar. That he must have a case of undiagnosed ADHD. Not quite knowing how to handle the emotional outbursts and rants. But he just doesn’t hold back, surely that’s healthy. Nothing repressed, nothing festering away. I have equally encouraged them to share their feelings and be completely open: but they decline, retreat to their bedrooms, my daughter used to write down what was bugging her on a post-it note. They are just different. With different needs. Less drama, less fire (LOL).
Back to Buddha. Here goes. I explained how being angry in a situation, with a person is( as Buddha so profoundly said) like holding onto a hot coal.( I’m not entirely sure what No.3 was angry about, I just know it involved the siblings that he was punching either side of him.)The coal will not harm them; it will burn your hand. You will feel the pain; you will get the blister, you will need a plaster. Not them, you!
Buddha actually said… Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.
Back to me, drop that bloody coal, come on drop it, drop it now, throw it, let it go, let it go (yep I’m now murdering the annoying theme song to Frozen, obviously this could push him further into the darkness, but funnily I can’t seem to stop myself and don’t actually care by now). It only took a further five minutes of buts and legitimate reasoning why everything was their fault and not his before he declared that he had thrown the coal out of the window!!!! Peace at last. Thank you Buddha, thank you Steve. I will save the gem about drinking poison and expecting it to kill our enemy for another day. I will save the one about perception and nothing being real for another decade.
A few months after my initial attempts at sharing The Buddha’s wisdom, completely out of the blue, No.3 decided to cut his particularly venomous eruption short and with not a single word of prompting from me announced that he was dropping the coal now. Wow, I was proud and quite moved. As a mum (my full-time job, this leggings business is just a hobby)I am constantly trying hard to instil not only a set of moral guidelines on how to interact and respect their fellow humans but just as importantly how to treat and respect themselves.
A happy life starts with a happy self.
I don’t want them burdened and weighed down with bags of flaming coals. Surely you are never too young to learn that we certainly don’t need to hang on to stuff that is not serving us well. I read a great quote the other day that said: “whilst we can’t stop the birds flying around our heads, we don’t have to let them nest in our hair”. Not always easy I hear you cry. Agreed. Not always one that practices what she preaches, I have had my palms scorched and all kinds of feathered friends residing in my locks. Sometimes it feels good/bad to hold that lump of coal; there is no way I’m letting go.
If we are feeling a bit weary a bit frazzled then maybe it’s easier to let our delusional mind take the wheel; to let the unruly inner child run riot. But negative emotions are contagious, spreading through the house quicker than a sick bug. Buddha was wrong about the hot coal. It hurts everyone. It’s like a grenade; yes you’re the one blown to smithereens, but the damage is far-reaching. There will be casualties. Mum says… Nothing good ever comes from negativity. (Another pearl of wisdom for my offspring) It’s remembering that fact that brings me back, forces me to grab that wheel again. To put that little brat back on the naughty step. That or somebody will make me laugh or tell me they love me or maybe it just burns itself out. It’s mentally draining being angry. I don’t seem to have the stamina for it. As Buddha also says… it shall pass, everything does.
So we need to be brave enough to let people see beneath our perfect, honest enough to vocalise our likes and dislikes but smart enough to drop that coal before you get your fingers burnt (easy right?) and eventually enlightened enough to meditate and breathe our way through the chaos without even noticing.
If you are not into Buddhism, then at least listen to what two Disney princesses had to say and
Let it go, let it go…
Be happy, be beautiful, be loved