I was about to flip my lid. At any second I was going to start a barrage of lecturing, a flood of verbal diarrhea where my voice would get high pitched and frantic and border on yelling while my kids would stare at me with glazed over looks, all the while me knowing they weren’t processing anything I was saying. Yep, I’d been here before…too many times. Their bickering had been incessant all day and I was FED UP!!! I hesitated a moment though and in that moment the Still Small Voice broke through the tantrum in my head and said, “You don’t want to do this again. You can do it different.”
Right. Different. With the definition of insanity (doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results) swirling in my head, I took a deep breath and crumpled onto the sofa stool. I paused. I regrouped… while the bickering continued. “Lord,” I prayed, “How can I get through to them, how can I change this pattern of behavior?”
And then it came to me. A merry-go-round. I had read a book that described it as the Crazy Cycle. This pattern of interaction in relationships were someone does something, we respond our same old way, they respond back their same old way and in the blink of an eye we are on the Crazy Cycle together, bickering, fighting, cutting with our words and getting nowhere…like a merry-go-round, spinning, spinning, spinning to nowhere. The image of the merry-go-round seemed to pop in my head from nowhere but in that moment I knew it was brilliant, an analogy my kids could see, feel, imagine, and maybe even understand???
So I took one more deep breath, steadied my voice and began to speak, “Kids…this is like a merry-go-round…” Pretty soon I had all 4 of them engaged, we were up on our feet acting in out on the living room carpet and THEY WERE GETTING IT!!! We role played what it looks like when we get on the merry-go-round with someone and what it looks like when we choose to stay off. And by the way, the whole thing was terribly convicting. My word! I get on that crazy merry-go-round with them!
The whole interaction ended well. I wish I could say that solved all of the fighting and bickering. Of course it didn’t. But it gave us a reference point for change and the hope of change because for all my trying over the years, I am powerless to effect change in them. But maybe, just maybe, I can change me. And for me, that could change everything.