Sunday, November 17, 2013

My Luxurious Complaints

So my daughter is earning pocket money now.  She's five, starting school next year so I thought it was time.  Time for her to learn about money, it's worth and the effort it takes to earn it.  Also the pleasure in working hard and saving for something you want and buying it with your own money.

But it's been a bit tricky because I didn't just want to give her money each week without working for it.  I mean she's not yet old enough to go out by herself and we buy her everything she needs so as yet money is in no way related to her independence.  It's more of a bonus at this point, to buy lollies and the other sort of useless crap you covet when you're five.

But I also didn't want to start giving her money for doing things around the house that she should just do, without remuneration.  I'm not giving her pocket money for picking up her toys, eating her vegetables or not hitting her brother, right?  That would be a very tempting slippery slope.

So we finally agreed upon a little system.  She earns 40c for doing chores I wouldn't normally expect her to do, for instance making her bed, wiping up after breakfast or setting the table for dinner.  These are optional chores, things that are a big help to me but that I don't expect her neccessarily to do.


Except now she wants me to watch her make her bed.  And the task it took me three minutes to do in the morning while she was eating her weet bix now takes half an hour as I watch her jumping up and down on her bed, flailing sheet in hand as she explains to me that "You have to jump out all the creases, otherwise it's lumpy!"

From there it decends into me encouraging her to focus on the task hand and to please just get on with making her freaking bed.  And the final insult as I begrudgingly hand over 40c for what is for me a completely infuriating experience.

As I sit and watch and run a list of all the things I could, should be doing other than sitting here watching my daughter pointlessly, aimlessly jumping the time ticks down to departure o'clock and my frustration builds.  I try to be zen, to be present to be joyful, watching her jump.  I last about three minutes.  First I start thinking and then I start talking, encouraging, coaxing, nagging, bribing, threatening.  

Why can't I just be? 

I see myself getting so frustrated and I need to get it in perspective.  She's just a five year old kid, right?  She's just making her bed, and having a little fun along the way.  I wish I could inject such joy into everyday tasks.

Instead of trying to change the way she does things I should be a little more like her.  She really is my Guru.  Pushing me and challenging me to be more patient, more present, more joyful.

I'm reading a beautiful book at the moment.  One Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.  If you haven't read it, I recommend it. It's stunning, in every sense of the word.  The beauty of the writing, the characters and the story, stunning, and shocking.

The book deals with child brides in Afghanistan.  Not exactly an easy going subject matter.  And yet it is written with such apparent effortlessness.

I haven't finished the book yet, so I can't offer a complete synopsis or review.  But one of the things that strikes me about the book is the unendingly grim, harsh and punishing existences of these women.  They go from one grief-ridden scenario to the next as they try to navigate a life in which they have virtually no power.  They do it under sufferance, but they endure it with a completely unfathomable grace.

I know this is a fiction, a wonderfully woven tale, but at the same time I know that some people suffer these fates.  Or even worse.  For some people life is hard, truly hard.  And it's not going to get any easier.

So the next time I sit watching my daughter making her bed, jumping for joy and making her own choices about how to do things I am going to bite my tongue.  I am going to remember that so much of what I complain about in life others would choose and relish and be eternally grateful for. 

The things I too often get impatient and frustrated about are actually blessings and causes of gratitude and joy.  It's not always easy to see it this way, but I need to keep reminding myself.

My complaints are indeed luxurious.

Listen to ARYANA Baanoo-e Aatash Nesheen

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