Let the wild rumpus start! (Where the Wild Things Are)
Another of the signs sitting on the wall outside my sons’ room, this quote comes from a beloved children’s book. It is the story of Max, a young boy who is learning to deal with all of the strong feelings that most of us, grown-ups, have seemingly mastered over the years. His parents see his havoc as a mere tantrum, but in reality he is facing the full-blown emotions of anger, helplessness, and frustration head on.
From a young age, I was taught that tantrums would not be tolerated. Now, as a mother myself, I realize (as I watch my twin two-year-old sons wail, kicking and screaming on the carpet) that they are not “acting out” to get attention. They are learning to cope.
The world is complicated and difficult and messy. We humans are made to grapple with strong emotions and crazy challenges. However, if we do not give our little humans space to experience their feelings and find a way through – we are doing the world a huge disservice.
Far too many of the world’s “grown-up” problems these days come because we have generations of adults who were told to sit still and be quiet. To ignore their emotions. To hide from difficult conversations and situations. They witnessed the adults controlling the situation and getting what they wanted from it. The problem is that little good comes from the “control” the world demands.
Control like this is an illusion. More accurately, a delusion, as though we can or should have any ability to command another human or environment to satisfy our own desires.
The truth is that we are not made to be one over another. We are made to be in relationship with one another. As equals. Working together. Finding common ground while celebrating our different gifts. We are meant to cultivate the love that lies within us into bonds with one another, that empower each other and find a way forward – together.
The end of the children’s story is perhaps a picture of what it looks like for the grown-ups in our midst to take the first step forward: Max’s parents overcome their desire to control their child and offer instead grace for his emotions, in the form of a warm supper.
Sometimes it is as simple as offering comfort when penance seemed needed. Other times it is giving space to another person so that they might really feel the strong emotions that come with being human. Always, we adults need to remember that we are all still growing and learning. And most importantly we are in this thing together.
So let loose the need to control. Give yourself and others space to be. Allow the challenges to come and the difficult conversations to happen. And let the wild rumpus start!