The best kind of punishment

That was it.

The last straw.

You know your kids have pushed your final button when you no longer get angry but instead, laughter arises. Not the hanging out with great friends kind of laughter.

Not the Melissa McCarthy/Sandra Bullock nose-taping bar scene from The Heat kind of laughter.

It’s like an unleashing of deep-seated Mom-wisdom. A heapin’ helping of ‘things are about to change.’

And so, with a smirky smile spreading across my face, I threw down the gauntlet between my two squabbling children.

“Apparently, we need to spend this week learning how to clearly communicate with kindness and compassion.”

It wasn’t an offering or suggestion. It was an order.

So, I removed what I saw as the greatest impediment to achieving this goal:


Also, the greatest trigger point if you want to get a 13 year-old’s attention.

There was resistance at first. Then it morphed into cleverness and great theatrical performances of brotherly and sisterly love poured forth in both song and dance.

I wasn’t buying any of it. A week is a week.

I laid out a thousand-piece puzzle on the kitchen table. My son spent several hours on it, took a nap, read a book and helped me make chocolate-peanut butter balls.

My daughter created video game scenes out of cardboard, complete with moving character and backstory. She pulled out her own puzzle and spread it across the kitchen floor, working on the border. And she wrote a letter to her best friend who recently moved away.

Here’s the magic:

I enjoyed the best days.

I found all sorts of time to connect with my kids: baking cookies, testing cardboard video games, going for a walk outside…

And sure, we did these things before but there’s a different pace in our home now.

A patience.

Before school one morning, I stood in the kitchen, admiring my family gathered around the kitchen table still determined to complete that puzzle. The kids and I sipped herbal tea while jazz played through the living room speakers.

I know technology is here to stay and we work on responsible use of it within our family, but it is easy for that train to run away.

We must make time.

Carve out space to connect and reconnect.

To slow down and savour life.

To rediscover our natural rhythms.

To allow our overstimulated nervous systems to rest.

To appreciate the beauty and magic of simplicity.

I wrote an article entitled Wisdom of the Warrior: 40 Days in Humble Warrior. I had focused my practice for 40 days on doing special things for my family. I thought the practice would serve them.

It ended up serving me in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

The electronic-free week was meant to teach my kids how to better communicate and get along. It was intended as both punishment and lesson – for kids, seemingly the worst kind of punishment.

But what a gift it’s been for us all.

“A beautiful thing happens when we start paying attention to each other. It is by participating more in your relationship that you breathe life into it.” ~Steve Maraboli