I got to witness a miracle of the very best kind this past weekend! The very best kind of miracle, to my way of thinking anyway, is one that brings about healing transformation for whole family’s at a time, and that’s just what I had the opportunity to witness during our recent “Victim-Free Parenting”.
I love the way Source works through us. Weeks before the intensive began, I was contemplating, through my morning practice, how best to present the work of understanding how victim dynamics play out in a format for family’s. I considered how powerful it would be to “choose” one family from the participants to serve as a model to demonstrate the work to the whole group. But how to orchestrate it exactly, I did not know.
Finally it was decided that Daniel (my husband) and our 23 year old daughter, Brooke, would provide a separate “Conscious Kid’s Camp” experience during the workshop for the children under age 12, and I would work with the parents and other participants on how to become better parents to themselves (and their children).
As the workshop started, I still wasn’t sure how to “choose” a family as the model for the weekend work. All I knew was that it needed to unfold naturally for it to be an authentic experience for all … and that’s exactly what happened! Our family selected themselves without me having to do anything to make it happen!
The choice was made during our very first lunch break (of a 2 day workshop) when the youngest child in a participating family of three, refused to eat her lunch.
Eating the food that is prepared is a kid’s camp rule. The parents and children had each signed their names to a contract during the morning registration stating they would respect the camp counselors and obey the camp rules. So when our new camper refused to eat her meal, thereby “breaking a camp rule,” she found herself in the capable, consistent, and benevolent hands of “Poppy Daniel.” And what we observed as a community was Source working through Daniel in a truly awe-inspiring way to initiate the healing of a dysfunctional family pattern.
Our group of 12-15 adults was able to visually witness a very valuable demonstration of good parenting without interrupting the process that took place between our 5 1/2 year old recalcitrant participant and Poppy Daniel. And what an incredible learning opportunity it was for all of us!
We witnessed a stubborn little girl give up her deeply entrenched habit of using rage and non-cooperation to control her family, and have her way and instead, move into a joyous (as opposed to defeated) state of self-empowered cooperation with Reality.
Working patiently with her from a place of consistent firmness, Daniel guided our stubborn little camper to an understanding that no amount of railing against the reality of “the camp rules” would change them. And, that railing against reality was not only useless, but misery-making – for her, as well as those around her.
Let me define what I mean by ‘Reality.’ Reality is simply the way things are, not the way we might want them to be, or the way we think they should be, but simply the way they are. Sometimes Reality comes in the form of life happenings, other times Reality presents as rules, laws, or as an authority figure, or someone in charge, in this case, Poppy Daniel.
At Conscious Kids Camp, the established Reality is that children are required to eat their vegetables before they can join in the other fun camp activities. So rebellion against the rules left our truculent camper sitting at the table with Poppy Daniel, her uneaten vegetables before her, while she watched the other kids, who had eaten their vegetables, romp and play around her. There was no shaming her about it, no threats, or bribes for that matter; it was not deemed punishment, she was simply asked to sit face to face with the Reality of the rules which required she stay at the lunch table until her meal was done.
And she was still sitting there when the adults took afternoon break … we could see her and Poppy sitting there together through the big bay window of the break room, as we waited in line for bathroom privileges. We could tell she was not in distress; there was no scowling, or punishing attitude present – quite the opposite. We watched the little girl, her back to us, chatting away to Poppy, as she sat contentedly on his lap, while Poppy, benevolently (he never raises his voice, or loses patience with his young charges), but relentlessly held firm to the Reality of the Rules – “You will simply sit here, with me, as long as it takes for you to eat your food. I have all day. I’m in no hurry. And the simple Reality is that I can, and will, outlast you.”
And the two of them were still sitting there in the chill of dusk when the session broke for the day. We had made plans to go out, as a group, for dinner, so I encouraged the little girl’s mom to take her a blanket and her jacket, and let her know what our dinner plans were, “But don’t stay too long,” I cautioned. “Leave her in Poppy’s hands.” Mom did as instructed, but when she turned to go, our stubborn little camper, not being able to tolerate the idea of being left behind, suddenly wolfed down her lunch and was ready to go with us! Wonderful! The first round was won. We were all delighted.
But then the next morning, at breakfast, the little girl’s battle with Reality started again. She refused to eat her breakfast, and there she and Poppy sat, once again, at the table while the activities of the day went on around them. It appeared obvious that our little camper believed that sooner or later someone would rescue her from having to cooperate with Reality and would let her off the hook.
And she went through her full 5 1/2 years worth of learned maneuvers in attempts to get mama, or some Rescuer present, to rescue her from Reality. In her extreme efforts to make it happen she yelled, she screamed like someone wounded, and cried pitifully; she blamed, explained, manipulated, whined, begged, and even tried sneaking food to the dog, but none of it worked.
Poppy, (remember we have seven grown children) had seen it all before, and could not be shaken. Our little camper and her unfinished meal spent the morning following Poppy around. Over and again, he reminded her that it was her choice; she could eat her food, and join the fun, or remain with him. He spoke plainly, truthfully, patiently, but with no show of feeling sorry for her, or of giving into her demands. No amount of her maneuvering could change Reality. Instead, he simply held consistently, kindly, firmly to the Reality of the Rules … and finally our little camper surrendered.
That was not the miracle however! It was how she surrendered that left the group of witnesses in surprise and wonder!
It was during lunch break when it finally happened! The two of them, Poppy and our stubborn camper, were out on the side lawn together, her unfinished meal still in her hands, when she looked up to see that her big brother was in the canoe with their mom, and that they were laughing and having a great time – WITHOUT her! This was more than she could stand! Immediately she cried out, “It’s not fair! I want to be with my mommy!” Poppy Daniel responded as he had all along, “You can go be with her! All you have to do is finish your food and run down and show your mommy your empty dish!”
It was as if a light suddenly turned on in that precious little mind and she got it! “IT IS MY CHOICE!” Without another moment’s delay, she gulped down the last bites of her meal and took off running to her mom, shouting with jubilation, “I did it! I ate all my food! Look, see my empty dish!” Everyone joined in the celebration. There was clapping, and congratulations all around, with her mommy telling her how excited and proud for her we all were.
At lunch, she not only ate all of the food placed on her plate, but did so with apparent relish! She figured out, all on her own, that she could eat the vegetables first that she least liked, saving her favorite foods for last. She bragged to everyone who would listen about how she could eat all of her food, and eagerly demonstrated to anyone willing to watch how she could eat tomatoes all by herself. As opposed to the previous two meals, our realigned little camper was the first to finish her meal. She was on fire with enthusiasm and eagerly embraced the camp activities for the rest of the day.
The message for the rest of us was plain. Demonstrated by this wee little one, we all saw how we too imprison ourselves when we engage in a useless fight against Reality. We saw clearly how we end up creating total misery for ourselves in such hopeless battles against the way things are. For, like this little girl, we do not get to choose our Reality, but we can ALWAYS, choose how we respond to it. We can resist Reality and be miserable or we can make peace with it.
We, like this little girl, were reminded during that powerful weekend, that cooperating with Reality is by-far the more peaceful route to choose.
I think I can speak for all present when I say, we were all deeply moved by the witnessing of this encounter between Poppy Reality and our reluctant camper, but the healing that happened for that little girl and her family was immeasurable! Surely such healing can truly be counted as a miracle!
Watch for summer camps for children, ages, 4-12, coming up next summer.