Every night we go around the dinner table and ask the question,
"What was your rose...your stem...and your thorn today?"
It's an end cap ritual that we adopted from my best friend's family that helps all of us to process our daily experiences...the good parts, the hard parts and the in-betweens.
Your "rose" symbolizes the best thing that happened...your "thorn" is the worst and the "stem" is something memorable, but it doesn't have to be fabulous...just something worth mentioning.
Last night, Kate (7) was relaying her thorn experience about a little boy who had poor behavior in the lunch room and later on the playground. "He's always making funny noises and won't leave us alone. I just want to kick him," she said.
"But you don't, "I said, "You need to take the high road. Tell him that if he wants to play with you that he needs to be kind and to keep his hands to himself. You need to stand in the sun."
This prompted a 10-minute dialogue about what in the hell it means to take the high road and why would you want to stand in the sun...when, well, that's too sunny and you're not allowed to wear sun glasses at school.
I explained that these are figures of speech, metaphors, visual tools to explain what it means to do the right thing.
And then I did it, I pulled out (almost word for word) my mother's high school speech. "Life is simply a series of choices. At any given time, you can go left or right. You always have free will. The challenge is to sit with your options and make the decision to do in your heart what you feel is right and nine times out of 10, taking the high road is best."
To which, my 2nd-grade daughter said, "I don't have time for that. Recess is really short and I just want to build fairy houses with my friends. I don't want to tell him what he needs to do. I just want to kick him."
Good point. Back to our talk on Ethics.
"But if you kick him, what will he take from that? That physical harm is acceptable and that you're not willing to do the work and use your words to describe what you need."
"What I need....is to be left alone and not in the sun," says an emphatic Kate.
"Okay, fine," I say, "But just remember that you can catch more flies with honey than with..."
"I don't even know what you're saying..."
Right. Okay, stand in the dark...take the low road...hit below the belt...what do I know? I just have the graduate degree in Conflict Resolution...but then again, I'm not trying to make nice with second grade boys on the playground.