We have been moving a bit more quickly than we are used to and staying in more hotels. As many parents know, hotels with a big family, equals a lot of shushing!
I have a tendency to worry a great deal about pleasing others and never getting in the way. As we all know, it is an impossible task and I am working on it.
When I get tired, I tend to pass my fears of eliciting any disapproval, from any direction, onto my children. My children are resilient and not only that, they are smarter than me and have less fear and more grace. How do I know this about them?
A few months ago, during our stint in Rome, the kids were “adopted” by a couple they met poolside that did not have any children. Rosalie and Claudio started by giving the kids hugs and kisses, which they are accustomed to in Italy.
This radiant couple visited the resort every weekend and brought little toys and treats. As the kids were getting ready to head to the pool kids-club one sunny day, I said, “You know Rosalie and Claudio are on vacation and they are here to rest. Don’t set up your towels and camp out right next to them unless they invite you over.”
When I came down to the pool a few hours later, Rosalie and Claudio were not their usual selves and with a language barrier, I finally figured out why. They felt the kids had disconnected from them because I opened my big mouth and told the kids to give them space. They thought they had done something wrong and they were heartbroken. She had prepared gift bags for each child full of toys and treats and photographs of their time together and she could not figure out why they were not bounding up to her for their Saturday hugs!
I was trying to “protect” this couple and I did just the opposite by speaking on their behalf. I will never forget what Rosalie and Claudio taught me poolside on that steamy August afternoon.
Old habits die hard, and this week, I almost repeated my mistake. We stopped in Frillesas, Sweden at Hallagärde Gård Equestrian Retreat. As soon we pulled in, after a full day of driving, we knew we were somewhere extraordinary. As soon as the kids spilled out of the car, I started calling, “don’t mess up the gravel, don’t go into the stable without permission, don’t wear your shoes in the house, don’t, don’t.”
I caught myself early, shut my mouth and let them explore. The most magical thing happened. The owner, Susanne, a doctor with a dream of having a horse property someday, appreciated the kids passion for horses and took to them immediately.
She asked them, not me or Ron, to help her feed the horses. She took them to meet horses from Estonia, Germany, and Ireland and told them stories of their journey to Hallagärde Gård. She gave them a ball to play in the dewey grass and talked to them about the importance of ecological responsibility and treatment of animals. The highlight was Bianca’s dressage lesson with Susanne’s daughter, Johanna on our last morning at the farm. The sky was clear, the trees were rustling with a gentle breeze and I sat on the bench and watched what my children had created.
They know the value they bring into the ring or the barn or the pool. They know when they are welcome. Their passion is contagious and because of that they attract these amazing, passionate teachers from all over the globe into their experience. I am so grateful to be one of their students on this journey.