“Can we goooo noooow?”. We were sitting at a cafe. My son had finished what he was having, and hubby and I still had our cups of chai to drink. I felt my tension rising. I just really wanted to be able to relax and enjoy my drink. We had intentionally left the phones behind, so distracting my son with one wasn’t an option. I acknowledged his feelings, but it didn’t shift things. I could very easily have started lecturing him or complaining about how I just wanted to be able to enjoy my drink, and it would not have gone well. The situation would have got more tense and I would have felt more frustrated, resentful and powerless.
Fortunately, I had recently made some suggestions to someone about games you can play in cars, and so these were in the forefront of my mind. I jumped into one such game, saying, “Let’s play a story game. I’ll start and then you can go next. Once upon a time there was a boy …”. “The end”, my son replied cheekily! Not quite the response I was hoping for, but it didn’t really matter! Now I was in the mood to play! And that’s half the battle sometimes, I think. By starting a game, I’d already changed my own mindset, I’d gone from irritated to playful.
After I started relating in a fun and enjoyable way, things just got better. I was feeling more relaxed, we were laughing, we were cuddling, we were feeling more connected. And as we left the cafe, I was admiring the beach, and my son started saying how much he loved this beach, and the other beaches, and all the beaches! And this was all the more remarkable because my son had really not wanted to come out to the beach or even the cafe this morning at all! In fact, he had put up quite a stink about it! I think it’s just amazing how playful connection can turn things around.