Ice Cream Melts – Building Resilience Together

A Mother’s Day Lesson in the Boise Foothills

By Michal Lloyd

Mother’s Day weekend in the Boise foothills was packed with families of all stripes enjoying the great outdoors and learning what it means to be together. My mother and I were on our usual hike. We exercise and get to know each other better with every footstep. We enjoyed witnessing families in action: kids squatting to watch giant beetles cross the trail, other kids picking flowers, and skipping past their parents while dogs barked at their heels.

I watched a family on mountain bikes. The father looked down at his son at the top of the hill. The little tyke had tears running down his cheeks, and dust was sticking to his face. I could feel the father’s frustration. “Come on. You can do it, bud. Stop being a baby.” I cringed a bit inside, but I’ve been there. I remember a clash of wills between my daughter and myself. Just like the father and son, we were locked in a battle.

My daughter loved to dress up in pretty interesting get-ups—a princess crown, plastic Beauty and the Beast high heels, a ratty red boa, and some crazy dress her grandma gave her that was too big. It dragged on the floor and fell slightly off her shoulder. I think she might have had some rouge on her cheeks, too. It was fun for playtime, but I couldn’t get her into something presentable when it was time to go to the store. I thought of duct tape as a solution, but it wasn’t Dr. Spock-approved. I had to take her into Atkinson’s Market, looking like Gypsy Rose Lee. I was embarrassed.

I had envisioned her decked out in Patagucci, like all the other cool kids. But we were locked in an epic battle. The more I wanted her to change her clothes, the more she resisted, and now she had a fierce headwind.

We walked into Giacobbi Square looking like a Vaudeville act. My little princess proudly stepped onto her stage. My cheeks were as red as my daughter’s. An older woman winked at me as we walked past the produce section. She whispered, “It might seem painful now, but you will miss it someday.” The checker gave my daughter a sticker and commented on her lovely attire.

I wanted my daughter to be a certain way, but I didn’t consider that we were separate people. The people in the store saw an adorable child with a playful imagination, not a bad mom. On the hill that the father and son were climbing, I saw a little boy facing a big challenge, not a father who had failed to teach his kid to ride a mountain bike. They weren’t judging me the way I was judging myself. My daughter couldn’t show up and understand herself when I got in the way.

Controlling your child out of your self-consciousness or embarrassment might be tempting, but what is your goal? Avoiding some suffering will only prolong future pain. What if the father just let his son climb the hill? My daughter lost interest in that crazy get-up when I didn’t need her to change. The shoes were suddenly uncomfortable, and the crown kept falling off her head when she ran. What if the father turned his head and let him wrestle with the hill himself? Then, the mountain could become the challenge.

Let your kids run out of money if they overspend. Let them experience life. Ice cream melts in summer if you don’t eat it fast enough. They need the pleasure and the pain of seeing the ice cream melt.

Building the resilience muscle has been shown to help prevent substance use.

Yes, it is hard for everyone, but in the end, suffering is temporary, like summer in the West and ice cream cones. These small lessons in resilience, learned through everyday challenges, can serve as powerful tools in helping our children navigate life’s bigger struggles, including the temptations of drugs and alcohol. By allowing them to face and overcome adversity, we are fostering strength and independence that will be invaluable throughout their lives.

So, next time you find yourself locked in a battle of wills with your child, remember that these moments are opportunities to build resilience and character. Ultimately, it’s not about winning the fight; it’s about preparing them for the journey ahead.

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