It's true. There is a skateboard in my living room. A teenager who spends an awful lot of his time being responsible left it there. The first time I saw it, I thought of all the "good parenting" things I could do. I could calmly and respectfully tell him to come to the living room right now and put it where it belongs (he wasn't home). I could move it myself and give him a reminder about his stuff and where it goes. I could move it and let go, since it was obviously bothering me more than it was bothering him. I could give him, when he got home, a "you need to move it by this time, or I'll do it for you, and if you choose to have me do it for you, it will cost you a chore to get it back" or some such thing. And believe me, I have done one of those things many, many times in many, many similar situations. I have teenagers, for heaven's sake.
What was unusual about this particular case is that I just left it there, and I chose joy. I found myself amused that the skateboard was in my living room. I felt love welling up in my heart for this child who used the skateboard as a mode of transportation, getting exercise and not using gas to get where he needed to go. I thought of the few short years I have left with him living at home, and how I'm going to miss things like that when they don't happen anymore. I was completely at peace with the skateboard in my living room. I even smiled a genuine, loving smile. No resentment. No huffy breath. I was curious at this response in myself.
Some people I know might call this a symptom of inner peace. Could be. I'll take all the moments of that I can muster. Please realize I am not advocating that you leave skateboards in your living room, unless, of course, that brings you joy. I am merely noticing that there are many different ways to look at any given situation, and when we realize that as parents, or teachers, or friends, we come to a place of more choice about how we interact with each other.
Many of us live in times that tend to move so fast and feel so full when we are raising our children, that we forget about our choices. It's important to remember that we really do have a choice about how we react so very much of the time. My friend Jean says children deserve parents who are well-cared for. I was well-rested, unstressed, and calm in that moment of noticing the skateboard, and I saw my choices. Regardless of anyone else's decisions about putting things in your space--be it your physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual space--I hope you will remember to care well for yourselves so you can be in touch with your choices in life, and make the ones that support you to be healthy, joyful, and alive.