to anticipate transitional speed bumps.

My son is a rising 8th grader.  If you do the math, this means that we have transitioned from a school schedule to a summer rhythm eight years in a row.

Each year, however, I seem to forget the inevitable transition period as we shift from the full warp of school pace to the impulse speed of summer vacation.

This year our youngest also being in school and two different school calendars augmented our adjustment phase.

We collided like combustible atoms all morning, and by 10:00 a.m. I had lost my zen, my patience, my perspective and I realized that I was more frustrated than I have been in months. I teetered on the edge of spraying anger around the room like rancid silly string. Before too much maternal anghts could ooze from the can like aresol hairspray and rip a crater in the ozone of our summer launch, however, I remembered something I said to a friend on the phone last night.

Last night I was all calm and philosophical like a woman who is not outnumbered by children 8:1.  Could it only have been last night, and not three weeks ago, that mediation seemed plausible and thoughts of summer smelled like warm coco butter?

Yes, it was just last night that I had donned my educator’s cap and opined to my friend that if children come to consensus on what their needs are and commit in community to meet each other’s needs, relationships flourish and behaviors shift to support positive group mores.

Last night that didn’t register as more redolent of crap than any diaper I changed today.

I grabbed the fleeing vestiges of calm like a bolemic mines the last traces onion dip out of the bottom of the tub when there are still Ruffles in the bag and shifted gears.

I absolutely admit that the intial phase of our family exercise was a bit tense. Picture children marched to a table as pencils and notebook paper slam into their work space in churlish percussion.

All was still when I told them that we were all going to write down ten things that we needed to feel safe and supported in community.

The Middle Girl asked a question that liberated the exercise from route to heart. She inquired, “Do you mean what do I need to be able to be myself with people? To feel safe.?”

Her question reframed the moment like an engraved invitation assures the reception of the wedding will have white lines, silver flatware and crystal champange flutes instead of a pig roast.

The attention of each person shifted as we discussed her idea. Soon the only noise in the room was the sound of pencils as they fox trotted across the ballroom of each page.

The results:

I need…

1.   to have my voice heard

2.   to be able to trust the other person

3.   to not be made fun of

4.   to share jokes

5.   to resolve arguments

6.   to love and be love

7.   to be respected

8.   to know the other person likes me for me

9.   to know that they care

10.                 to have good times

I need…

1.   people to be honest with me

2.   people to not put words in my mouth

3.   people to be nice to me

4.   them to be a good friend

5.   them to understand me

6.   them to be listen to me and think about what I said

7.   them to be fun be around

8.   them to be not mean

9.   them to be careful with people

10.                 them to like me

I need…

1.   to know that I am can trust them

2.   to know that they will treat me with respect

3.   to feel safe and safe and happy with the person, them being nice

4.   to know that they will always be there for me

5.   to feel safe with the person and knowing will always follow through when I ask them so I can count on them

6.   to feel free to be myself around them

7.   to know they will always be my friend and be loyal

8.   people to be kind

9.   know they will not tease or be mean to me

10.                 to trust they will never be mean just because it’s popular

I need…

1.   to feel included

2.   food

3.   God

4.   Freedom

5.   Courage

6.   Love

7.   You

8.   Justice

9.   Kindness

10.        People to be careful with me

I need…

1.   to feel considered, that my feelings are important to others

2.   to feel heard, that what I say matters

3.   I need to feel appreciated, that I bring value

4.   to be able to have fun

5.   to be able to contribute

6.   to know what to expect

7.   to know it’s not all about me

8.   to feel loved

9.   to laugh

10.                 to be able to take breaks

The ages of the speakers of these needs range from 5 (The Baby) to 187 (The Mamma, calcuated by the MyTrueAge formula like used on The Biggest Loser.)

Who knew we had so much in common… like we were related even!

There was genuine accord and group consenses that we all operate with the same basic sense of needs. The kids made their own novel and insightful connections that fractured the axiom that the majority of unhappiness in life is relational as a new truth for the next generation.

We committed to respect and meet each other’s needs.

Our communication extended relational hospitality and a vocubulary common to each other’s process.

It was not the beginning I expected for the first day of our summer vacation together, but it was the one we clearly needed.

I know this by its fruit.

Well baby I’ve been here before
I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew ya
I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah!