I watched, trying to keep a straight face, as my seven-year-old daughter bounced around the bed like a crazed hyena. It was evening, very close to bedtime, time to be showering and brushing teeth, not using her parents’ bed as a trampoline. After a long day at work and thirty minutes just getting to this point, my patience was quickly evaporating. Time to pull out the big guns … “No story before bed if you don’t calm down and get ready!” The bed-trampoline went instantly still and with internal gratitude, so did my nerves. With a small sigh of relief, I half-guided, half-manhandled my tired child through her nightly shower/teeth regime. Success! Or so I thought.
Towelling her down post-shower I started to recognise the signs, a cheeky upswing of mouth, the little over-reaction to being dried off, she started hopping from foot-to-foot with a little giggle. She bolted, half-wet, with impish glee, straight back onto the bed-trampoline and into her rendition of dance moves from Mamma Mia. Three ignored warnings later I got staunch, “No story!”.
Needless to say, all hell broke loose. The next twenty minutes was a blur of flailing arms, shouts, tears, wailing and much rolling around on the floor. After an immense test of patience from me and my partner, she slowly calmed down and begrudgingly got into bed. In between the fading sobs came the words that utterly floored us both; “I’m sorry I’m so bad”. It felt like we had been slapped in the face, how and why did these words come out of our beautiful little girl’s mouth?
By coincidence, my partner and I had been reading the book The Voice of Knowledge by Don Miguel Ruiz, the author of The Four Agreements – a piece of work that has made an impact around the world. There is much wisdom shared in this book, too much to share here, but one passage that struck me vividly was when Ruiz describes a conversation he had with his elderly grandfather, a Nagual (Shaman) in the ancient Toltec tradition. To quote his grandfather…
“You know, most people around the world believe that there is a great conflict in the universe, a conflict between good and evil. Well, this is not true. It’s true there is a conflict, but the conflict only exists in the human mind, not in the universe. It’s not true for the plants or the animals. It’s not true for the stars or the trees, or for the rest of nature. It’s only true for humans. And the conflict in the human mind is not really between good and evil. The real conflict in our mind is between the truth and what is not the truth, between truth and lies. Good and evil are just the result of that conflict.”
Sitting on my daughter’s bed and comforting her in my arms, I reflected on the shaman’s words of wisdom. How was it that at the innocent age of seven my daughter is already indoctrinated in the lie she is ‘bad’ because of innocent actions spurned by being simply overtired. How easily we attach to this narrative, that we, that our essence, is ‘bad’ just because some of our behaviour might upset somebody else.
Our True Nature is Perfection
Ruiz’s grandfather goes further, “And the first lie you believe is you are not. You are not the way you should be, you are not good enough, you are not perfect. We are born perfect, we grow up perfect, and we will die perfect, because only perfection exists. But the big lie is that you are not perfect, that nobody is perfect. So you start to search for an image of perfection that you can never become. You will never reach perfection in that way because that image is false. It’s a lie, but you invest your faith in that lie, and then you build a whole structure of lies to support it.”
Eventually, my daughter drifted off into a long and peaceful sleep. My partner and I started dissecting what had happened and our actions as parents. It was astounding how quickly we both started acting out the language narrative that had been so shocking to us. Were we ‘bad’ parents for being so staunch? Was I ‘bad’ for upsetting our child? Was I ‘bad’ because I had raised my voice in the heat of the moment? We quickly caught that false narrative and stopped ourselves. We sat in stunned silence as we realised just how quickly we had gone into the exact same lies as our daughter had.
Remembering that we had been reading about this topic together only the previous evening, my partner suggested turning back to Ruiz’s grandfather for more insights. “When you agree to believe in something without a doubt, you invest your faith. If you have no doubt about what you believe, then for you it is truth, even though it may really be a lie. Your faith is so powerful that if you believe you are not good enough, you are not good enough! If you believe you will fail, you will fail.” He goes on to say, “Humanity is the way it is because collectively we believe so many lies. Humans have carried the lies for thousands of years, and we react to the lies with hate, with anger, with violence. But they’re only lies”
The next morning, illustrating the beautiful resilience and presence of children, my daughter had already forgotten about the battle from the night before. I was the welcome recipient of a mammoth morning hug and the words, “You’re beautiful Daddy!” – I melted.
On the way to school, I asked her what she wanted to listen to in the car, straight away her answer was, “Mamma Mia!” – her current favourite. I pressed play and the music started at the moment we had paused the previous day. Another synchronistic moment arose and I simply smiled. The Abba song, Slipping Through My Fingers, started to play. The song perfectly reflected how I felt at that very moment: so deeply connected and full of love for my little girl.
To quote the chorus:
Slipping through my fingers all the time
I try to capture every minute
The feeling in it
Slipping through my fingers all the time
Do I really see what’s in her mind
Each time I think I’m close to knowing
She keeps on growing
Slipping through my fingers all the time
(Written by Andersson / Ulvaeus)
This was one of those beautiful times in life, both of us singing away without a care in the world. In this brief moment singing in the car, I was caught in a sweet reflection of how perfect we all are. When we strip away all the layers of lies of our conditioning, socialisation, and even sometimes of our own making.
We are pure expressions of truth – we are perfect just the way we are – even when we’d like to do better.
As we arrived at the school gates, I smiled again, as I saw that same cheeky excitement from the night before, one of her friends was getting dropped off at the same time. With a quick kiss on the cheek, she bolted, and I contentedly watched them skipping down the path together, ready for another day of perfect wonder.
We all have stories we tell ourselves about how we are not perfect, how we are not good enough. What recurring stories do you tell yourself? And what have you done to let go of the lies and lean more into the truth of your essence? We’d love, as always, to hear your views and ruminations about this theme and this article.
Much love and appreciation for the perfection within us all.
I have a niece and this days we are having time together like today. She is 8 months old. You can imagine how does feel like spend time with babies. They are just simply expressions of truth. Lately I had a conversation one of my friend, she is a yoga teacher. She told me that every human being coming in to this life with their karma’s and we are not completely innocent. Her thoughts is opposite of mine, I have never thought what she is believing or thinking. This beautiful article also remind me of this small conversation. I like to think and feel that we are pure expressions of truth, we are perfect just the way we are- even when we’d like to do better. Every time when we find ourself on separation or lies, softly we need to remind ourselves and each other through our behaviors .
I felt with you in the car while you were singing the song with your beautiful daughter. Thank you for sharing your story and remind me, how we are perfect just the way we are.
I’m glad to hear that not everybody believes the pseudoscience of “born in the wrong body”
Thanks for sharing your feedback Saran, for clarity ‘Slipping through my fingers’ is one of the songs from the Mamma Mia album.
Thanks for your kind feedback Rosemary 🙂
Thanks Elliot 🙂
You’re welcome Loes, thanks for the kind words 🙂
Thanks for sharing Shoshana!
Thanks Margaret, totally agree 🙂
Saran: I believe you may have misunderstood. The Musical is Called “Mamma Mia” AND There is also a song by the same name. The Musical was reffered to the night before. They were listening to the musical again the next morning, but when the tape/disc began to play, it started in right where they had left off from the musical the night before, with a new song beginning: “Slipping through my fingers”. The Dad thought that quite synergistic, how that was the song playign at that moment. He did NOT chose it for himself. It was just the next song and he saw the beauty and perfection in that moment.
Namasté. With blessing to all who undertake the sometimes thankless, oh so demanding work of parenting another human being. And for the grown among us who patiently accept our parents imperfections. We are all equal. We are all in this together. And we’ve been each other’s parents and children many lifetimes over!
I don’t understand what you mean Saran. How is it bad?
I completely disagree with you. He is loving and reflective of his own actions. They have realised that they could have given a choice, but then continuing trampolining on their bed was not an ideal choice either.
And the daughter asked for the song which he sang along with. Hardly a supreme act – but you may have another valid alternative view which I am not aware of, which would be interesting to discuss. No one is completely right or wrong, where human psychology is concerned. We can only learn from each other.
I am stuck with this story! Bloody parents! In the car his daughter wants to hear “MammaMia”! And he gave her another song! His song! Again this parents suppremecy! Completely wrong. A very bad story for me.
So happy to hear about your thoughtful parenting! Lightens my heart.
If we change the language, then we can look at truth and lies as commands and choices. in nature, we have to comply with the herd for our safety, not for control. As parents, we need compliance at times from our children in order to keep them safe. But we look for compliance all the time, and that’s the lie. The truth is that we have a responsibility as a parent to keep our children safe and secure. The rest is made up of the choices they will make, and how those choices will create the world that they live in. The truth is that I am not bad, but I can make a bad choice. I want my child to listen to my command to stop jumping on the bed so I can move the night time routine along, but if we can help her see the choice she can make, she can continue to use her time jumping or stop jumping so there will be time to read a book, then if she feels bad it will not be about herself, it will be about the choice she made. Now we are giving her the opportunity to learn that she is a part of the world just like we are, not bad or good, but unique, knowing that what she thinks and how she feels matters.
The story touched my heart. I recongnize a lot. Thanks for sharing and therefore awakening
As Harry Palmer, who developed the Avatar Course said
“the only difference between people is their beliefs”
This is so true! When you watch a child’s development it is so obvious how much the negativity of the world influences their behaviour. It is so sad. The trust of the baby is slowly changed.