Thursday, June 9, 2011

What James 4:1-2 means to mediation

This morning was a stormy one.
Not outside, but inside.
It's been awhile since we've had any flare ups in our house. I'm not sure if it's that we're really learning how to do Mediated Learning in our house or if it's been because we've been busy playing outside as much as possible and therefore everyone's too happy and too pre-occupied to get into a row.

Whatever the case, it's been a while since any major attitude has happened at our house.

The scripture that I have written on our chalkboard door in the kitchen is James 4:1-2.

What causes quarrels and fights among you? Don't they come from your desires within you. You want something and you don't get it.

This scripture has been on our wall for over a month. I've had many opportunities to meditate on it. And as I have, I've been approaching these blow-ups with a much different attitude.
I'm asking myself questions now.
Questions like: What am I wanting right now? What are they wanting right now? Are either of us being selfish?
It changes the whole dynamics of an argument when you ask these questions.

Today was a clash over grammar.
We have a great grammar book we work through. It has 4 sentences you write out and then you are done. Done for the day.
It's short, it's sweet and to the point.

My eldest had plans to go play in the yard. I asked her to first do her grammar lesson.
I have a desire. She has a different desire. Clash!
Normally, it's a quick conversation and she hops to it.
Today, she was adamant in wanting to go out and play.

I asked her to self-regulate.
She refused.
I applied a consequence.
The stormy exchange upgraded from a f2 to an f3.
I then asked her where she thought our conversation was headed: are you going to storm out of here or are you going to sit down and we'll talk this through?
She stopped and crossed her arms.
More consequences are applied if you storm out, I say.
She sits on the bench. "We'll talk. But you never listen."

I know this trick. This is a trick for me to say, "What do you mean I never listen," and then I would list all the times that I do.
But I'm wise to it now.
I know it's a trick. (I've used it myself a time or two)

I reply, "I'm ready and willing to listen now. Are you?"
She nods imperceptibly.

"So, what was that tirade all about?"
"I want to go outside. I don't want to do grammar."
"What is it about grammar that you don't like?"
"It's boring. It's the same thing, day after day."
I weigh what she says and decide I want to clarify something.
We discuss the relevance of doing the same thing day after day, the importance of habits and the role daily discipline plays.
"Is it that you don't like creating a habit?"
"No. It's just boring. I know how to do all of it."
"So, you don't find it challenging?"
"No. It's so easy."
We discuss the option of moving ahead in the book.
She expresses that she really enjoys doing every single page in a book.
I leave the decision up to her.
"Well, looks like you have a choice. You can jump ahead to a more challenging part or you can do every single lesson. But once you decide, you need to stick with the decision."
I leave her some time to think.

She whines for a bit and expresses how she hates to write.
I remind her that I know she hates to write but this is the compromise we've come to. A few minutes every day to establish a habit of writing. Four sentences. We're doing it to build up the habit of writing.
Out come the excuses.
My hand gets sore.
I hate to write.
Writing is stupid.
I'm bored.

This is another discussion for another day, because I just can't mediate it all today.

"What is your decision for right now?"
"I want to do harder stuff."

She works on it.
It's sloppy.
I look at it and say, "Is this your best?"
"It's decent," she says.
I look her in the eye. "Do it again."
She frowns, but she knows. She's been lazy.
She grabs the pen and writes the words again.
The last word she writes all over the page.
"Is that your best?"
She grabs the pen and writes it small, in capital letters.
"Is it supposed to be in capital letters?"
"Fine," she grabs the pen again and writes the word. "I'm done," she announces, "whether it's right or not."
I look at it. "Well, look at that. It is done right."
She tries to hide a smile.
"This exercise took a half hour. You normally do this in less than 10 minutes. What made this drag on forever?"sets of
She looks at her page.
"I had to write everything out again and again."
"Right. So, is being accurate important?"
"I guess."
"Why is it important?"
"Because if you aren't accurate you waste time and can't play outside."

We bridge accuracy to other areas in our life.

As she scampers off out doors, I think back to James 4:1-2 " What causes quarrels and fights among you? Don't they come from your desires within you. You want something and you don't get it."

Both my daughter and I had desires--mine was for her grammar lesson to be done, hers was to go outside. If we had both forced and demanded that our desire be done, this wouldn't have gone well. Instead, we sat down and worked through what the issues were. And in the end, we both got what we wanted. The grammar was finished. She went outside.

Writing is still a prickly issue here, but we're working through it. Not every mediation situation ends where you are holding hands, feel your hearts are closer and there's the song "Friends Forever" playing in the background.

Sometimes, you are leaving on good terms but knowing that the situation has room for more.

This is just another step in mediation.

Mediating: challenge, self-regulation

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