The Posture Police Blotter has been on hiatus for awhile and I'm bringing it back with a daily blog that will run from June 20 through September 22. This daily edition will have a different focus to it and the gem in all of this is that what I'm going to be writing and what I've written about posture and the Alexander Technique are all related. Follow along and learn how!
The Weekender - Part 2 - Tug-of-War
This morning as I was about to put up my unposted post from last night, I added that I had been up with one of my children who was having trouble sleeping. She had an injury in her mouth that hurt and was probably hungry as she hadn't eaten much prior to sleeping because of the pain in her mouth.
The injurious event occured Saturday afternoon when my partner and I were trying to have a conversation and our five-year old, feeling excluded, began bouncing around on the bed with a sheet over her head and encouraging her 3-year-old sister to engage in equally dangerous feats. Interruption has become a big issue, whether it's verbal interruption or an action intended to break up a conversation. It is always our goal to speak in a way that includes our children, but it's become clear that if that's always the case, that's all we'll do, especially with everyone constantly talking on top of one another. This background activity quickly lept to the foreground as a game of tug-of-war with a sheet ended with the younger child flying face-first into a wall, blood gushing out of her mouth. Luckily no teeth appeared to be damaged, but it was a painful experience nonetheless.
Despite the pain, I'm not sure who was more upset, the injured sister, or the uninjured sister. The older child was inconsolable, as she typically is when something occurs that is different from what she intends. Whether she's trying to spell her name and doesn't draw a line in the way she wanted or does something that results in something else she wants not happening, she generally screams and bursts into sobs. She sometimes then goes on to throwing and breaking things. My partner and I have concluded that this is her way of feeling in control. If she unintentionally does something undesireable, she feels helpless and out of control, so she can take control by purposely doing undesireable things. As her younger sister has become more and more of a willful presence, this habit has become more and more problematic. We can trace it back to her infancy when she would grit her teeth, clench her fists, and shake if something didn't quite go as she intended (ie. a tower of cups topples over before she placed the last cup on top). This all may sound very dramatic and difficult, but on the other side of things, my daughter is incredibly reasonable and when she's calm can speak very articulately about how she feels when she's upset.
My struggle with my five-year-old is keep my own cool when she's upset. If I don't allow myself to pause, my instant reaction is generally to scream back at her if she screams, which encourages more screaming. I am very sensitive to her strong reactions in part because I see my own behavior in hers. I panic if I think that I've caused a problem and my priority in terms of stopping my panic is clearing myself of blame. Making sure that I wasn't to blame for a problem can often feel more important to me that actually solving the problem. It's something that I do that I think I often hide well or deal with better in non-family situations, but it really comes out with the people I'm closest to. My partner frequently points out that I'm playing the blame game. I've denied it in the past, but I see the habit more clearly now and I see how it's not useful and a waste of time.
Yesterday, I suggested to my daughter that she learn from the tug-of-war mishap so that she will make different choices in the future. I could learn to take more of my own advice. I feel that it takes a lot of courage and groundedness to accept my contribution to a problem, not dwell on it, and move on to actually solving the problem or at least not adding to it.
The more grounded I feel, the easier it is for me to deal with feeling like I've caused a problem, and move on. The ground is there to support us and the less held we are in our bodies, the more we allow it to support us. Feeling the ground supporting me is one of the most significant changes that I've experienced since I first discovered The Alexander Technique. My experience of panic or anger overwhelming me is a sense of loosing my grouding. Those feelings can still be there, but if I'm grounded, they are feelings that I am experiencing instead of feelings that take over. As my daughter matures, I hope that I will convey more and more of a sense of groundedness and that she will learn to find her ground.