Yesterday at lunch, Bronson bumped his leg on the table. I didn’t react, mostly just glanced up because I’d already told him to “sit still” and “just eat” at least 1,000 times. Bumping his leg was a byproduct of his continued fidgeting.
Since I wasn’t reacting Oli chimed in, “Have a drink of water Bronson. It will make you feel better.”
I bit my lip to keep from laughing out loud. Bronson glowered and informed Oli that water would not help his bumped leg, but when he looked at me, we both started laughing.
Apparently, my kids don’t hear “sit still” and “just eat”, but they are absorbing my general parenting philosophy of take a drink of water, it helps.
I started this philosophy as a camp counselor. The kiddos in my cabin might have been homesick, might have had a headache, might have had a small scratch requiring a band-aid, might have had a fight with the girl whose feet were crossing over into her part of the bunk bed, might have been unwilling to attend her next session — really the list could go on forever. And I found that simply giving them a drink of water and waiting a minute really helped decipher whether or not this was a real issue. And I’m telling you that those drinks of water saved me a lot of headaches, literally and figuratively.
It turned out that most people didn’t need me to say anything or even do anything; they just needed a minute and an ever so slight distraction. Don’t get me wrong – there were many times I had to talk my way through a bucket of I-miss-home-I-can’t-go-on tears and many times I had to be the ringmaster in a cabin-wide spat, but I stand by my philosophy. Have a drink of water, it helps.
So quite naturally, when my kids inundate me with their various ailments and complaints, my first response is almost always “have a drink of water.”
- “I’m hungry!” Spoken 15 minutes before dinner. Response: “Have a drink of water, it helps.”
- “My brother keeps hitting me.” Response: “Both of you, come have a drink of water, it helps.”
- “Mama, Mama.” Spoken 15 minutes after bed time, followed by “I’m not tired.” Response: “Have a drink of water. Now go to sleep.”
- I tripped on a root outside and fell into the grass, but the scratch that was already on my leg from the time I scratched myself has now become a battle wound. Response: “Sit down. Have a drink of water, it helps.”
- And when the kids are full chaos and leaving their own cups of water alone and just generally not listening, I pour myself some clear, life-giving liquid, and I gulp. Big, noisy, full gulps of water. (Really, ask Ryan – I drink my water loud.) Because it helps.
While I think water does actually help sometimes, like when a headache is in the mix, I mostly think we can’t keep complaining or crying if we’re swallowing. Having a drink of water sets a pause on whatever delirious situation is occurring, and the pause itself is refreshing, life-giving, nourishing.
It’s a lot like a deep breath, but in this family, we need something more compulsory then taking a deep breath. So we take a big drink of water. It helps.