When I started teaching the Living Mindfully programme for children in my town's swankiest new yoga studio, I had lofty ambitions for the involvement of my two Lads. Not only would they be bowled over by the tranquility of Solstice Studio (the calm, white space, the adorning, luscious greenery, the Himalayan salt lamp for god's sake), but they would be naturally in tune with my teachings. Lapping up the quiet breath work, the invitations to melt into the present moment, and they would be in silent respect of their mother and her reliance on them to set the most outstanding of examples for the other children.
By session two, however, Little Lad had been swiftly banished to a friend's house for the remainder of the course and Big Lad was on his knees begging for another chance. "Pleeeeeease will you let me come back? I didn't mean to shout "I'M BORED" in your face as you were talking about meditation. I didn't mean to sit on Mason's head during the body scan. And Mum, it's not my fault if massive farts just slip out of my bum when you ask me to calm down."
Yeah, yeah, yeah . . . and I suppose having the general air of a caged animal and the voice of a screaming banshee for a solid one and a half hours was out of his control too. Whatevs.
Anyway I did give him another chance. Why? Well, I guess because, like a lot of parents, I have an outrageously romantic expectation of how my children might behave at any given time DESPITE what feels like five billion traumatic experiences that suggest otherwise.
So session two came and went and I didn't kill Big Lad. Session three. And then session four. And by the end of the course I actually felt like we had some sort of understanding. Yes, we were walking a fine line between bum jokes and exuberant FIFA 18 recaps but there were glimmers of light.
Glimmers of thoughtful, considered answers to my questions, actual enthusiasm for learning and even some quiet - albeit brief - stillness during meditations. When we dragged ourselves through the door one night after a particularly lively Mindful Movement class, take-away in hand and my heart set on a large glass of red, I heard Big Lad self-importantly exclaim to his little brother: "You should have behaved so you can come back to mindfulness class - it's brilliant."
I've never been so pleased to witness the smugness of one brother to another.
And yes, you may be able to spot which one is my child in this collage of photos - taken at the presentation of certificates during the final session when, really, he should have bloody well known what was expected of him - but alas, Rome was not built in a day.
And that's why - perhaps against my better judgement - I have decided to give in to his impressively committed insistence (i.e. whining) that he should be allowed to attend my next mindfulness course starting tomorrow night.
Now as a mother to two completely terrifying tearaways, I am no stranger to having my conscience split down the middle. But this particular conundrum had me riled today, as Big Lad put the pressure on for me to give him an answer this morning.
1.) It would be great for him to really cement his mindfulness learnings and give him a brilliant chance to go into his future with practiced skills to help him make the best possible choices in life.
2.) It would be easier without him.
So I did what any self-respecting mother would do. I asked somebody at the school gate.
Well, to be fair, it wasn't just anybody. It was a good friend of mine who not only knows Big Lad pretty well, but also assisted me on the last mindfulness course at Solstice and had seen first-hand the effects of his presence on me and the group. And, as I'd secretly hoped, she did have a pretty little pearl of wisdom for me.
"Why don't you write down all the positive and all the negative behaviour you witnessed from him last time, and also how that made you feel? Then he's got it in black and white and it's not just a chat you two are having. It's more substantial."
(This is not the first time I have wanted to kiss a friend immediately for giving me a parenting idea that TOTALLY suited me and my kids. Remember the 'Balloon Pop' post? Now that was a eureka moment)
So I made sure I found a chance to write those lists today because I just knew Big Lad would go for this. He's always needed things stated clearly, plainly, with visuals if possible - so I got my felt-tips out (any excuse) and went to work.
When I showed the lists to him later on, and morphed myself into caring, open, communicative Mummy ready for the onslaught of questions, I have to admit it did sting a tad when he just shrugged and said "Okay", before snuggling back into the sofa with his Match of the Day magazine.
"Is there anything you want to ask me sweetheart? Does it all sound fair to you? Do you think you can keep doing all the things on the positive list for tomorrow night's class?"
He flicked those beautiful blue-green eyes in my direction and smiled over the top of his comic, "Sure. I can do all of that."
And that, my good people, remains to be seen.
Photos taken by Studio 23 Catching a Smile
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