Pause, Ponder, Pray, Proceed - Four P Magic

Sometimes I feel like a trail horse, like if I stay on the clearly marked trail then I can automatically put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward. But put something in my path that isn’t usually there, or fork the path out where a seemingly big directional decision needs to be made, and I stop. I just stop. My people call it “pausing” and say it’s a positive thing. They talk about the four P’s – Pause, Ponder, Pray, and then Proceed slowly, gently…. Part of me hears that stuff and wants to run fast and cannonball into something. Maybe fire. Maybe water. Maybe a mosh pit. Something. Not only keep going but tear through this life like a heavy metal band superstar, a Bat Out of Hell.

But I don’t do it. At least I haven’t been doing it and I don’t plan on doing it. I plan on waiting until I can walk normally again, breathing normally, in and out, step calmly over the hurdle, see the turn ahead and take it or not, knowing that nothing is irrevocable. And then when the walking gets easy and I’ve done that for a while and the path is clear, then and only then perhaps bump it up to a pleasant trot. Or feel good walking, pausing, walking again.

So last night after the last TV show and the bonus TV show Ax wanted more show. I gave him my, “Darling don’t make it hard to turn the TV off because then I won’t want to turn it on,” line of reasoning, which usually works pretty well, but last night it didn’t work. He wanted more show. Final offer.

Then when he realized he wasn’t going to get more show he wanted to go to the downtown playground, to go swimming, to do “something extra before bedtime.” Then he was hungry but didn’t know what for, then he just burst into tears, which is what happens when he gets tired, frustrated, angry, and even sad.

I was feeling pretty tired, frustrated, angry, and sad too, so I left him crying in the living room. Wailing. I resisted the urge to go to him while I was emotionally flooded. We were both level ten and had to come down to at least a four before the next interaction.

After a while I went to him and sat beside him and put my arm around him. I said, “Would you like some cold fizzy water during stories tonight?” As a kind of olive branch, an acceptable bonus, plus the guy was hot from tears. He stopped crying, wiped his face with his sleeve. “Yes,” he said, relieved to have won some concession and be able to get to bed with dignity.

We brushed up, flossed up, and snuggled up with no more than the usual amount of dancing, selecting books, discussing of bodily functions, incomprehensible joke-telling, jumping, and other Ax-type behaviors. We propped the pillows up extra so he could sit up, instead of lying down, during story time in order to sip from the can of fizzy water without spilling.

It was enough “something extra,” to make bedtime feel special. And we both slept well.