Last Saturday we went to visit Dom’s mother and sister in Maine. I forgot to post the pictures this week. Or was too busy or distracted or something. Somehow even though we haven’t accomplished much it’s felt like a crazy week. Maybe because we were gone all last Saturday and it’s taken my brain all week to catch up with itself?

Anyway, we had a great time. The weather was nice enough to allow Dom and the girls to go swimming in the (heated) pool while I sat on the deck with Grandma B and the boys. Ben reveled in all the new trucks. Anthony loved being in a new place. Both boys were enchanted with Grandma’s dog, Leo. We had a lobster dinner and drove back after dark.

Dom and I had a wonderful time chatting all the way there and back and remembered what we’ve lost as we’ve cut down on road trips in the past couple of years. Back when we were dating and first married we were in the car quite a bit. (Much to poor baby Bella’s great distress. She hated being alone in the back of the car.) We frequently drove to Maine and took long drives on the weekends and although I often brought a book or music to listen to, they were always forgotten because I always find that talking with Dom is by far more interesting than any other entertainment. Our honeymoon was perfect, a long road trip to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. It’s funny because when I was a kid I always looked forward to car trips as a time to read (when I wasn’t the one driving, of course.)

Although we certainly could sit around and talk at home, somehow there’s no better fuel for a good conversation than mile markers speeding by. The kids might get anxious and whiny, but for our marriage the long drive is itself a great health tonic.

I grew up taking long family vacations. We’d drive from central Texas to Colorado, Montana, and other wild west places. There were days and days of driving and it could be a bit tiring but it was also something that brought us closer together. They were some of the best experiences from my childhood. I hope that as our kids get bigger we’ll be able to do more road trips. Perhaps even go back to Nova Scotia and PEI. For now though just a resolve to get up to Maine more often.

She got nervous and didn’t jump (I think the delay while I ran for the camera did in her resolve); but the fact that she even contemplated jumping made me proud.

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  • Katherine, 
    In the short term it doesn’t work as a preventative so much as diffusing the situation when we are already in a standoff where they are refusing to compromise.  It’s got Bella to the point where she was willing to make a deal over a disputed toy or to apologize over hitting or shoving. So no, not a whole lot of payoff right now, but mainly, I’ve got my eye on the long term goal of them being able to monitor their own emotional state and find different ways of expressing themselves. I figure it helps me when I’m angry if I can see the ridiculousness of my over the top reactions so it can’t but help them in the long run.

  • Oooh, Thanks. I really needed this thoughtful post today. I like the diffusing bit—it’s not a long-term solution, but the ability to laugh at ourselves, acknowledge our silliness, and move on is so important.

  • This post resonated with me today and complemented something else I read this morning. Oddly enough, it was a chapter from Farmer Boy (one of my all time favorites) that I was reading to my 8 year old. Almanzo is training his calves and he says,

    “He knew you could never teach an animal anything if you struck it or even shouted at it angrily. He must always be gentle, and quiet and patient, even when they made mistakes. Star and Bright must like him and trust him and know he would never hurt them, for if they were once afraid of him they would never be good, willing, hard-working oxen.”

    Of course, he is talking about animals, so the analogy is not perfect, but it occurred to me how much is similar in the training of children. How hard it is for me to be gentle, quiet and patient even when they make mistakes, and how it grieves me heart when I see them act out in anger and realize they are reflecting me. The good thing about children—as opposed to animals—is that they can and do forgive and they love you back. But as a lover of literature, I’m always amazed and happy when a book I have read many, many times speaks to me in different way at a different time in my life.

    I think striving for gentleness is an excellent idea and ideal and I do believe that it does bring patience and joy.

  • What a wonderful post. I’ll have to read that book.

    How has helping the girls to see the ridiculous in their disagreements helped them in their behavior? I struggle a lot in getting the girls to play nicely, share, not hit/kick/throw/scream, etc. I hadn’t thought of trying to point out the ridiculousness of chasing a sister who has taken a toy such that she only holds on to it and runs from her sister. Does it help?

  • Melanie,
    Thank you for writing such a beautiful post. So much to think about. I really loved the image of God laughing – His gentleness far surpassing His justice, or better yet, as Therese says, because He is just and knows how little we are, His justice is suffused with mercy…and His amusement surpasses all!

    I needed a dose of support today in my own relationship with my Dominic who will be turning 9 this week. He was an answer to prayers to Therese – even due on her feast, though born on Padre Pio’s – and I am grateful for the reminder to pray to her for him. Anger, yes! That’s his best emotion smile – and my worst! So time to begin a novena…and if I forget to pray it for 9 days in a row, well I figure that makes it a perfect Theresian novena. Very little!

    May God bless you and your dear family,

  • So funny you wrote about patience… One of my friends once said that it is our own faults that bother us most in our children. 

    Today my 24 yo daughter is home (hurrah!) because she has to come to Boston on business.  Surely enough, she and her dad managed to get into a disagreement at dinner.  Afterward, she came to me and apologized for getting into a fight with him.  I told her it was no surprise, that the two of them are so much alike (perhaps like you and Sophie!) and that I have always felt like I watch them fighting in a mirror when they fight with each other.  Then I reminded her that I, too, have mirror fights (with her sister).  Nevertheless, there is so much love between them.  And I was actually thinking of the way my oldest son and I used to explode at each other, and then, just when I was feeling terrible and rising from my chair in my sulking spot, he would appear in the doorway.  Our timing for apologies was as similar as our timing for losing our tempers.

    As for patience, children have been my education in keeping my temper.  But I have been a slow learner!  And still have such a long way to go. 

  • Erika, Yes. I think I see the ability to laugh at myself as a way to acknowledge my own littleness, one way to begin to embrace the little way.

    Jessica, Oh wow! I love that connection with Farmer Boy! I definitely see the analogy and it is helpful. Why does it seem so much easier to be gentle and quiet and patient with animals? Oh I do know it’s because it’s easier to be realistic in your expectations. The hard thing with a three year old is she seems so rational—much more so than an ox—and yet really I do tend to fall into the trap of thinking that because she can talk thus she is also capable of acting as a rational being. Anyway, thanks for the quote. Something to think about and inspire me.

    Suzie, Thank you for the book. It has been such an inspiration. A gift.

    Oh yes, I like that about the perfect Theresian novena! I think I’m starting to understand Theresian littleness.