“That which you resist persists.”
We ate dinner at a friend’s house last night, where a six-year old was thrilled to have seven-year old Jeb to play with. But Jeb wasn’t into it.
At first he would hide. I guess he partially enjoyed hearing her call his name repeatedly as she hunted for him.
“Jeb…Jeb…where are you?”
Whenever she’d catch a glimpse, he’d run off into another place and she would quickly pursue trying to uncover his whereabouts. He’d eventually give up and spend some time with her but then quickly tire when she groped at his body or got too close to his face.
At one point he comes and hides behind my body like I’m the target “safe” zone in a game of tag. His eyes plead with me. I can tell he’s trying to be kind but he’s reached his personal space limit. Something distracts her and she wanders off (temporarily).
I tell him, “Use your words instead of running away. You can explain that you just want some space.”
Seeing a clear window of escape, he nods and then dashes away downstairs before she notices. I return to dinner prep in the kitchen with the adults.
Not much later I hear voices from outside through the screen door. The occasional sound of a skateboard tail scrapes on cement and the voice of a little girl prods with yearning and delight., “Jeb…Jeb…Jeb.”
I hear Jeb’s voice, “I just want some space.”
She’s having none of it. The more Jeb tries to flee, the more intent she is. I peek out the window to see that he’s taken refuge in our car, peering out the window like a caged animal. She is loving this. She takes his skateboard and begins to roll around on it, certain that this will get his focused attention.
What was, at first, a desire for her to play with Jeb has now become a game of how she can get him to pay attention to her. The more he tries to run, the more challenging her mission. And she is determined. She’s nowhere near hearing the word ‘no.’
The skateboard move is the final straw and I have to go downstairs and intervene as Jeb is bee-lining to his sacred board to scoop it up and cloister it in the car. This isn’t the exact attention she was wanting, but if it’s all she’s going to get, she’ll take it.
Looking at the phrase, “that which you resist persists“, I see it is playing out in living color for both of these kids. Clearly, Jeb’s desire to avoid his younger peer only exacerbates her presence in his space. And for her, the one thing she doesn’t want – Jeb to ignore her and run away – continues for as long as she employs her strategy of force.
I have compassion for both of them. Wanting one thing but getting the opposite. If I were a better parent I probably would have come up with a great way to help them both. Instead, I was left to continue making requests that she give Jeb space, while eyeballing Jeb with the parental “be kind to her and do the best you can until we get home” look. At dinner’s end, I could tell Jeb was tiring and she was gaining ground.
By the time the creative spins on his name began, “Jeb-o, Jebby…” I knew it was time to load up and go home.
On our drive back to our place I acknowledged Jeb in all of his patience. I tried to explain to him that she simply had a desire to play, she just didn’t know how to express it in a way that felt good to him. He actually said he was glad I was his mom and that he was thankful I supported him. On the positive side, the situation brought he and I closer.
This morning I’m still pondering the concept, “that which we resist persists.” What areas of my life are ‘dogging’ me? Where can I simply surrender, thus experiencing the change I want?
Funny, it may often seem that if we relinquish to the thing we are trying to avoid, it will overtake us and we will not get what we want. Could it really be that when we let go to that which we are afraid of, we may get the very outcome we desire?
I’m going to be a scientist and keep experimenting with this. If you’ve already taken this one into your life-lab and have an experience to share, please chime in. I’d love to hear the results.