This month four families gathered and the activity we shared was cooking puddings in preparation for Christmas. A few of us usually partake in this seasonal tradition with our blood relatives, but hey, this feels like family too.
It was a beautiful day of mild, fine weather and so we did all the preparations outside on tables in the pergola, coming in sometimes to grab a needed item or to use the stove. But mostly we were a hive of activity at the outdoor tables – with lots of chopping, and measuring and mixing, the young girls working alongside their mums and dads.
The boys however did not seem to be drawn to join in with this activity and they went inside to play. I admit I was disappointed and raised it with the group – what to do? The adults decided to leave them to play as that was clearly their preference.
On one of our trips to and fro between the kitchen indoors and the work space outdoors, a couple of us adults became aware of the littlest boy in tears as he felt the bigger boys were being mean and leaving him out. So we called the 3 bigger boys attention to this and asked if they could help out as he was upset. They gathered where he was sitting and very soon we heard one say to another – “well I was feeling bullied until you let me join in, so how about you let (the littlest) join in more and then he’ll feel better too?” The older boys tried to explain how the imaginary story they were creating in the game together was shaping the character’s roles and that it wasn’t personal. All four boys then attempted to resume their game but the littlest one was struggling to understand the rules that the bigger boys had made up and again an impasse was reached. At that point a couple of parents attempted to inject a bit of lateral thinking to help, but that didn’t really overcome the different age perspectives of the boys. And so the boys naturally shifted from that imaginary game to another one that was simpler for all to understand.
My own intention for the day had been Gratitude – and at this point I felt it welling up in my heart – gratitude that whichever activity we chose to participate in – unity was growing with people having conversations that matter when creative conflict arises. It sure feels to me that the simple choice by all of us to turn up to connect as a community, gathering regularly, and caring about each other, can support our resilience and wellbeing.