Never did I think this little ritual would be quite the tool when we first began…
When my children were toddlers and I desperately needed the crying to stop had a difficult time calming them down after a bummer fall or broken toy, I would ask them to do the crazy 8s with me. The crazy 8s are a series of breaths where we breathe in and out on the count of eight. We breathe in and hold eight counts, and then we let the breath out slowly for eight counts. I learned of this technique from one of my all time favorites, Dr. Andrew Weil––he is a huge advocate of controlling the breath in order to control the mind. And when the kids were little, the counting alone would distract them enough for me to get my wits to take their minds off their bruises and bumps and they would go back to their rambunctious play in a matter of moments. So needless to say, the crazy 8s were a frequent go-to practice in our house.
I thought this technique was short lived. I figured the kiddos would eventually learn that I was trying to distract them and they would soon become immune to my ‘therapy.’ So, for the past four years or so (my kids are tweens these days) I haven’t even tried this idea. To be honest, I really haven’t needed to––the kids really don’t cry that much any more. (They do fight with each other, now, but that is a whole other blog topic!)
Last night, however, was a tough night. My son was excited to work on his turtle collection ‘book’ with me and hurried with his daily routine of homework, piano and a shower (a big ‘give’ for a 12-year-old boy) so that he would have that ‘special mommy time’—we have titled it so the kids really look forward to one-on-one time with their parents.
Cue: the drama. Well, my son forgot that he still had 15 pages left of his book left to read and that he had struck a deal with his father (my husband—‘his father’ sounds like we are divorced) not to start on his project until he finished his book.
Now, I don’t know about you, but at 12 years of age, my head was almost always thinking about the prize and not so much about the journey. And thus, the same scenario played out with my son. He got so excited about the turtles that he went immediately to the computer without finishing his book. When my husband discovered this, disappointment was all over his face. Now, my hubby who is close to perfect btw NEVER how can that be, but I swear raises his voice, and never ever shows anger. So his disappointed glare at our son reduced him to a babbling mess––a mess that continued for over half an hour. We all know how fresh I feel at 9:00 p.m.? This night was no exception! But then it hit me.
Enter: the Crazy 8s. I asked my sweet, sweet boy to breathe in rhythm with me. In and out, to a count of eight, just like in those early days. We did the exercise together and within a few breaths, he was yawning and fell fast asleep.
There really isn’t a moral to this story––just passing along the lesson that was demonstrated to me to remember the techniques of a simpler time in order to tackle the seemingly impossible tasks of today. I hope it may work for yours, too.
Live the moment,