Friday, August 17, 2007

Today I was reminded of our annual visit to see the cherry blossoms in D.C. It is always breathtakingly beautiful and the perfect setting for photo ops. This, of course, means that nothing ever works out for the perfect picture to occur. Be it rain or bad hair days, we have never been able to capture the amazing shot of the girls among the blossoms that is my hope.

This year I gave up before we even left, seeing as how the girls have reached the age where they feel entitled to choose their own clothing. And it no longer consists of precious matching gymboree outfits with bows in their hair and coordinated tights. No, now they prefer clothes that say things, like "I love horses!". Which is a nice sentiment and all, but not exactly the image I want to capture of my beautiful angels amidst the pastel blossoms.

So anyway, I wasn't even hoping for a Christmas card quality photo this year. I just wanted a great. family.outing.

The girls are usually gung ho for anything we do; I feel blessed that they are so much more agreeable that I was at their age. So it was a little odd for Cailin to ask if she could stay with a friend instead of going with us. Gasp! After assuring her that there was absolutely no way she could miss out on this fun family day, and allowing her to play her gameboy on the trip in, we forgot that she didn't want to be with us, and started off on our happy. family.outing.

She quickly reminded us that she was bored, her feet hurt, her stomach hurt, she "just wanted to go home", and horror of horrors, refused to smile for the pictures. That was the straw that broke the camels back. You can complain and have a bad attitude, but by golly you better not mess with mama's pictures. Even if you are wearing t-shirts and jeans; we must capture this moment for posterity. So her daddy took her aside and explained to her that talking is a privilege. If you choose to abuse it by speaking complaints and negativity, then you lose that privilege. The rest of us would not have our day ruined by her complaints, so she had to walk in total silence for the afternoon.

(My favorite part of the entire day was when she tried to tap Nana on the shoulder to point something out to her, and Daddy snapped, "And NO poking either!". That just cracked me up! It has become a family joke to now say, "And no poking, either, anytime things have gotten too serious.)

Surprisingly, the day turned around for all of us. We were able to walk around the Tidal Basin and enjoy the beautiful trees, and Cailin took the opportunity to adjust her attitude to one a little more pleasant to be around. This effort resulted in Daddy buying her favorite candy roasted almonds from the street vendor, and a good time was had by all!

I am writing this because I want to remember, when I look back, that in raising the girls sometimes we had to do the hard things. It wasn't easy to insist on silence for 2 hours. It hurt my heart to silence my chatty Cathy, but you know what? We don't live in a vacuum and our actions affect those around us. Cailin learned a great lesson that day, about how your attitude hurts not just yourself, but others as well. It isn't healthy to allow the opinion of one to shape the day for the group. So that is why we must do the hard things, because that is the job description of parenting, and that is why I choose to record this day's events.

I am so proud of my girls and their (normally) joyful hearts. They bring sunshine into the room when they enter, and my hope is for that to be their destiny. To bring joy and life into the world, instead of the gloom and selfishness that seems to be so pervasive in society.

I think we are off to a pretty good start.


Penless Thoughts said...

Good for YOU!!! We so often do let one person (it doesn't always have to be a child either!!!) ruin everyone elses day. I love that you made her not talk. I'm going to have to remember that one!!

JMom said...

I love the idea of silence as a treatment for bad attitudes. What a great lesson!
I use a grumpy chair in another room currently...might have to try your idea.