Events and Life Mindsets People

Cracking the kiddie code

I’ve been thinking about our kids and their quirks and triggers a little more lately. In one sense it’s always on my mind because we interact with them daily, obviously, but what I mean is that I have been thinking about the little opportunities to understand our kids better as if they represent codes we can decipher.

Our daughter is not a morning person (she takes after her mother in this respect) and virtually every morning involves an argument with her at various stages of the process of getting her ready for school. As is probably the case with most parents and their kids, kids don’t respond to circumstances the way we do or would expect them to and it is easy to become frustrated with them, particularly when we are running late and like to miss that train to work.

It’s not that we don’t want to understand them, it’s more that when you have 30 minutes to feed and dress yourself and kids and still get out the door on time, your tolerance for delays is pretty low and, yet, that is exactly when every little thing involves a 10 minute debate.

I noticed that even once my daughter is out of bed and sitting at the breakfast table with a bowl of cereal in front of her that she likes (I did a lot of A/B testing to narrow down the shortlist of favorites), she has this habit of stabbing at her cereal with her spoon quite aggressively for a few minutes before dropping her spoon and sobbing. Telling her to eat her food, predictably, doesn’t work and she just becomes more frustrated (and so do I).

One morning I had an idea and asked her if she wanted more milk in her cereal. She was already sobbing and nodded so I added more milk and that seemed to resolve the situation for her because, now, she could dunk all of the chocolate balls in milk before eating them. At least, that mostly addressed her frustration. She also seems to expect the cereal not to float on the surface of the milk and doesn’t realize that if it all floats then it doesn’t all float uniformly because she hasn’t eaten any of it to spread the rest out more evenly. On the other hand, I think I at least made progress so she has fewer tearful, cereal-stabbing moments before actually eating her cereal.

This is just one of the many challenges I face in the mornings while we are rushing to get ready for school and work and most of these challenges seems to be another little code to crack and a little strategic time to spend to make future mornings a little more efficient. That said, an analytical approach rarely works with kids who tend to be pretty irrational and lateral for the most part but, then again, I don’t remember anyone telling me this whole parenting thing would be easy or boring.


The parts of me that wants to …

I have a copy of Hugh Prather’s “Notes to Myself” which is a collection of thoughts and ideas which a friend of mine recommended a few years ago. I eventually bought the book, started reading it and then put it down for a couple years. I picked it up again recently and have carried it in my bag.

I’ve done a little travelling lately and the book has come in handy in that time between when the plane begins its descent and we’re supposed to pack away our devices and landing at my destinations. It’s the sort of book you can read piecemeal. Prather’s thoughts are anything from a line to a paragraph or two and each one is a gem. One quote that appeals to me is this one:

There is a part of me that wants to write, a part that wants to theorize, a part that wants to sculpt, a part that wants to teach…. To force myself into a single role, to decide to be just one thing in life, would kill off large parts of me.

This speaks to an ongoing internal debate I have about my identity and how I present that identity to the world. Am I a lawyer, strategist, writer, photographer … what defines me and how does my chosen identity affect how I present all those other desires I have to express myself in other ways? Prather’s point, of course, is that creating these false distinctions between different parts of our selves or even forcing ourselves to choose one “role” is ultimately harmful. How to reconcile them isn’t so easy, especially when your different “roles” are diverse.

Just the same, I suppose a healthier starting point is “Parts of me want to do different things and I don’t necessarily have to choose which to do, only when and how to do them.”

Events and Life Mindsets

When every experience mirrors your personality

Anil Dash’s first blog post back in July 1999 titled “A Minor Revelation” was a pretty profound and highlights something I think about almost daily:

The premise is that the things we experience in our daily lives are reflections of ourselves. Behaviours and traits we see in other people are perceptions of similar behaviours and traits we see in ourselves. When we see a person behaving in a way that infuriates us, the anger we feel about the other person is really anger at what we see in ourselves.

Becoming aware of this dynamic and how all our experiences are really personal mirrors is both a challenge to our perception of an objective reality and frustrating for our egos because awareness brings the realisation that all those things that annoy or please us about other people are things that annoy or please us about ourselves.

The one question I have is how we can improve our experience of our lives. I suspect the answer lies in the idea that when we look around at our world and all we see pleases us and fills us with contentment, then we have reached a point where we accept ourselves as we are and are content in ourselves. This doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing for all of us. A person you or I may regard as an nasty person may be content with that and, consequently, his experience of the world. The question is what your experience of your world would be if you were completely content with your self?

Photo credit: Mirrors by shareski, licensed CC BY-NC 2.0