Off the Mat: Passionate Energy

Passionate Energy

Photo courtesy of wishful photog

Winter vacation during a cold snap. 3 kindergarten boys + 2 moms + 1 little sister + local indoor playground = a sanity break for everyone. Climbing structure, water play, firefighter dress up, lunch break. The boys, used to eating together in the school cafeteria, plow through lunchbox contents and are ready to play far more quickly than we are. We suggest they go run around the open space nearby, farther from the tables but still within sight. There’s grabbing and take downs, but all three are smiling and well matched – rules I learned from another mom of boys.

Soon, little sis joins the boys. Big bro pretty quickly knocks her down and piles on top. Her expression shows she’s not hurt, but not happy. Their mom calls him off and running resumes. Then big bro tackles little sis again. This time, brother’s friend piles on top too. And I watch my bright eyed boy run gleefully to join the fun and hop on the pile.

Three boys, each twice her size.

One little girl underneath. Not smiling.

Walking the line between not my place and not OK, I call my own child off with the sharp tone he knows to heed immediately.

Not OK.

You guys are all the same size, so if you want to wrestle and everyone’s having fun, that’s ok. But the rule in our family is it’s not ok for bigger kids to pile up on a littler one.

During a visit to Grammy and Poppy’s, a gleeful tickle game turns to tears. Escaping my father’s grasp, he announces his intent, I’m gonna teww on you to Mama.

He’d said stop. Poppy didn’t listen.

Later that night, my dad and hubby get an earful from me.

You are the most important men in his life. His biggest examples. He needs to learn from YOU that when a person sets a rule about their body, a good man listens. He stops. This isn’t about tickling. This is teaching him about respecting rules for other people’s bodies.

Both understood. Both know my story.

When my parents talked about sex, they always wrapped the details in an unwavering abstinence message. We were good (read Christian) girls; we would of course wait until we were married. I remember vividly one conversation when I was 16 about my attraction to my on again/off again boyfriend, the boy who would later feature prominently in my most egregious #metoo narrative.

What did I see in him?

The phrase I’d use now is vibrant life force. Intensity. The word I knew then was passion.

Mom, trying to bridge the gap, tentatively ventured, you mean, sex?

No! I stomped. That’s exactly what I don’t mean. I knew that’s what you’d think!

Passion, joie de vivre, intensity, vibrancy. We tie them all to sex. Those qualities are certainly sexy, attractive. And so much more.

Yoga philosophy names brahmacarya as one of the ethical tenets of yoga. Brahmacarya. The sex one. Brahmacarya is commonly translated as celibacy. (What?! Yoga philosophy teaches celibacy?!?) This view singles out sex as separate, something to suppress. I find wisdom – and healing – from teachers who define brahmacarya as responsible sexual behavior along with the conservation or moderation of life force energy beyond sex.

It helps me to acknowledge the other ethical pillars brahmacarya stands on: nonviolence, truthfulness, and not taking from others. Like remembering to breathe deeply and taking time to stretch my muscles, working with these interwoven ethical practices improves my quality of life. Hopefully too, my quality of parenting.

So with my son, we are not pushing an abstinence message. We focus on consent. We try to use proper names for body parts and sex acts and answer the questions he asks, which are getting more and more explicit – gotta love sleepover camp! He’s still in the eeew stage (thankfully). But we know that will change, even if he can’t imagine why anyone would want to do that?!

Last weekend, we attended a small birthday party which featured abundant candy and caffeine in addition to cake. Their sugar high was exponentially frenzied. Five boys running and wrestling, tackling and tickling. Close to chaos, yet never spun out of control. And when the birthday boy’s little sis joined the fray, I was heartened to see my son slow down, pretend wrestling with her – half his age & size, moderating his energy to play appropriately with her smaller, younger body.

Maybe some of our teaching is getting through.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ginny Hamilton

Pain specialist, yoga instructor, and Reiki practitioner Ginny Hamilton teaches simple & proven techniques to release pain & restore energy in the workplace, group classes & private sessions. She has put down roots in South Amherst with her spouse and young son. Daily she’s amazed by the beauty the Pioneer Valley offers, though her allergies beg to differ. In Off the Mat, Ginny explores how yoga’s physical and mindfulness exercises help her parent and how parenting shapes her yoga practice. http://www.ginnyhamilton.com

Off the Mat: Lessons in Unconditional Love from Piggett

Things that Fly

My boy is at school. Kindergarten. A whole new world. He’s only a mile away, much closer than the preschool over-the-river-and-through-the-woods. Still, it feels farther. Distant. I was in and out of his preschool room. Most days we said goodbye at his cubby-hole, but there were regular opportunities to come in and play, read a book, or just cuddle until he was settled.

Now, we say goodbye as he sprints out to the bus. If he remembers to say goodbye. He goes into a big building and hangs his new big backpack in a cubby I have never seen. May never see.

Apparently, stuffies don’t go to kindergarten.

I remember him that very first day, all wrinkled and noisy. Read the rest of this entry »

Off the Mat: Fear Itself

Fear Itself

He’s hit 54 inches, or close enough for Six Flags safety standards. With his extra effort to stand tall – viola! – he’s cleared to ride Superman. As the train climbs and climbs that first hill, I gaze down at the beautiful, absolutely unobstructed view of the river 200 feet far below.

My stomach clenches. Hands clamp. Breath catches. Until I reminded myself – this is supposed to be fun. We pay for this fear! I exhale and enjoy the ride. Read the rest of this entry »

Off the Mat: Walking on Air – April 2018

Off the Mat: Walking on Air

Photo credit: Eugene Goffredo

Browsing for books for a friend’s toddler, I came across the Science for Babies picture book series and was reminded of this exchange from many moons ago. Putting his squirmy wormy legs up the wall next to his changing table, my oddly polite two-year-old states, “Wawk up dere, peese.”

“Walk up the wall?” I confirm his intent.

“Peese. Wawk up dere and over dere and down dat side.” He gestures to illustrate his intent to climb the wall and cross the ceiling.

My freeform self wants to encourage this outside the box thinking. My anxious self flashes to headlines of fatal falls from fourth floor windows by kids wearing blankie capes, attempting to fly. Must I teach my child about gravity? The thought is so…heavy.

It’s not that I’m opposed to limits. Far from it. Painted hands and feet stay on the paper, not the floor. Splashing stays in the tub. Hitting in all its variations (punching, kicking, butting, et al) is not allowed.

Yet somehow it saddens me to think I must tell my child he can’t walk on air.

Read the rest of this entry »

Off the Mat: Water as Self-Care

How Things Work

What makes the car stop? How are car brakes different from bicycle brakes? Train brakes? Roller coasters? How do hydraulics work?

These questions pepper my days these days. Raised for sugar, spice, and everything nice, my mechanical engineering knowledge is woefully inadequate. Thankfully, in his updated masterpiece on machines, The Way Things Work Now, author David Macaulay and his illustrated mastodons describe the inner workings of the toilet tank, stapler, and radio, along with Wifi and RAM. And hydraulics.

I’ve been reading about the power of pressure. When a fluid is compressed, it exerts pressure in all directions.  A container not strong enough to withstand the pressure will leak or otherwise be damaged. Properly contained, the fluid will transfer the force of its power into the world around it. Read the rest of this entry »

Off the Mat: Gentle Discipline

Gentle Discipline

Early in the school year, my wily son and his 7-year-old co-conspirators figured out they could “trick” their teacher into extra recess by sitting longer. He says we’ve been sitting too long, and we say no, we can sit for 5 more minutes, and he lets us and then we get to go outside, my kiddo tells me with a sneaky grin.  When I ran to relay this story, his teacher laughed heartily – please tell him to keep tricking me!  Read the rest of this entry »

Off the Mat: Lessons in Unconditional Love from Piggett

Things that Fly

My boy is at school. Kindergarten. A whole new world. He’s only a mile away, much closer than the preschool over-the-river-and-through-the-woods. Still, it feels farther. Distant. I was in and out of his preschool room. Most days we said goodbye at his cubby-hole, but there were regular opportunities to come in and play, read a book, or just cuddle until he was settled.

Now, we say goodbye as he sprints out to the bus. If he remembers to say goodbye. He goes into a big building and hangs his new big backpack in a cubby I have never seen. May never see.

Apparently, stuffies don’t go to kindergarten.

I remember him that very first day, all wrinkled and noisy. Read the rest of this entry »

Off the Mat: The Art of Choosing a Parenting Response

Enjoy the Ride

My five year old son is in his room, slamming the door. Deliberately and with precision. He’s got highly sensitive ears – auditory processing the occupational therapist calls it – and I can only assume he’s seeking Just. The. Right. Sound.  The SLAM! that will echo through the walls and into my bones set my teeth on edge. Sound rises above the bathroom fan but is muted by the water pressure, warm streams trickling down my hair, ears, face, shoulders. The water, the curtain, the closed door give me the ever so slight space I need to view the scene with a hint of detachment. Amusement, even, though shame lingers around the edges, like mildew never quite scrubbed from the grout.

Occupying the weeks between school and camp, we’re back from a 3 day urban adventure: Amtrak, NJ Transit, and a myriad of subway lines.  He’s a stellar traveler, fueled by curiosity and wonder and an obsessive love of trains.  Take him out of his ordinary and he shows his extraordinary. I thoroughly enjoy time with the big boy he’s becoming.

So it’s no surprise really when blubbery-whiny-tedious boy returns upon arrival home.  And along with him, short-tempered-uninspired-reactive Mama. Read the rest of this entry »

Off the Mat: Rainbow Dress at the Green River Fest

Free to Be

Spinning my boy, wearing our rainbow sundresses. (Photo credit: E Goffredo)

The venue: 2014 Green River Festival. For those unfamiliar, it’s a music fest – Happy Valley style. Vendors sell food on a stick, but it’s chicken satay. The hotdogs? Grass fed beef. The fried dough is topped with rustic pesto and goat cheese. This was our third year enjoying eclectic music and family friendly extras, like circus acts and hot air balloons. It was here, two years ago, my son first expressed his desire for a dress.

I was choosing between two upcycled t-shirt sundresses in the Maker’s Market. She makes kids’ sizes, too, but they’re more costly than I would spend on one unit of children’s clothing, especially one designed for single-season wear. He’s an only child. There’s no amortizing the cost.

I want a sundwess too, Mama. I want mine to have a numbuh fwee on it so peopew wiww know I’m fwee.

I give a non-committal response. Maybe we can.

The dress is seemingly soon forgotten – until it comes up again the next year. This time maybe doesn’t suffice because it’s accompanied by that kicker of all questions: why
Read the rest of this entry »

Off the Mat: Finding the Time to Get Grounded

Around Here Somewhere

Believing it best to start honestly, I have a confession to make: I’ve lost my daily yoga practice. I know it’s around here somewhere. In fact, I’ve used it a few times recently. But then I misplace it again. It’s somewhere under the pile of magazines I want to sort before recycling; the outgrown toys I think might bring in a bit extra on Craigslist; the clean now-too-little big boy underpants that need a new home. (Can you donate underpants or is that too “eew?”)

Haven’t unrolled the mat in a while? Breathe. Stretch. Set the intention.

I miss it. I’ve had it for years! Each morning, I’d drag myself out of bed, pee, then go to my mat. Sometimes 30 minutes, sometimes more, sometimes just 10. Sometimes I’d fall back asleep there for a bit. Regardless, the act of breathing, stretching, connecting within – the intention to start my day on the mat – changed my day off the mat.

Don’t get me wrong. I then went on to drink my coffee, was often late to work, and didn’t necessarily greet my fellow commuters with enlightened bliss. But I felt better physically. Was more grounded. More clear headed.

So where did it go?

Read the rest of this entry »

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