Playground Perspective (July 2014)


 Let's begin again...

At some point in the next eight weeks, Thea will become a big sister, and Playground Perspective will take on an entirely new tilt on life. I may just have her start writing the column. 

In one of the multitude of illustrated models we use at Floricane is a developmental model that shows how people and teams learn and adapt to new skills, expectations and changes. It's in the form of a ladder, and at the top of the ladder is "integration" -- that moment when everything falls into place, and the change or skill becomes fluid and innate.

The irony of that moment when "we get it" is that it is a moment. It's often followed by the moment when "it" changes. I'll often joke, in quite a serious fashion, about the "rice paper floor of integration."

One of life's developmental ironies is that as we successfully adapt to one change, the world continues to move. A new leader hitting her stride at matching her leadership style to her team gets promoted -- and has to adapt her style all over again to a new group with different styles and needs. A new team collaborating effectively and hitting on all cylinders develops a new process -- and back to the beginning they go. We develop social media strategies, and Facebook changes the algorithms.

I finally get something of a handle on parenting our school-aged daughter, and an infant son prepares to land in my arms. Thea develops her sea legs as an only child, and a new source of love, noise and distraction changes the focus of every conversation.

When the rules change, when conditions change, we adapt. My picture of parenting is about to shift.

One of my favorite punk bands from the 80s, Rites of Spring, said it well: "They say life's a game all full of chutes and ladders. Then it's not if I win, but how I play that matters, right?" (See them scream about it in this 1989 video. Yes, I still love this music.)

Right now, Thea is excited about being a big sister. I expect over time her experiences of having a brother will fall in the realm of net positive.

Similarly, right now, I am anxious about being a dad for a second time. Some things are easier. We're buying a lot less stuff, for instance. (The first time around, you don't know what you don't know. So you buy two of everything.) I'll be less panicked, I hope, when the baby cries. The dog is old, and will sleep through everything. Nikole has been a great mother to Thea, and will be an even better mother to this new tyke.

But I don't think for one second that this chapter will be anything like the last. And all of the lessons I've learned -- about myself, about adapting, about love -- are going to go through a great big reset. And this new child will be his own person, ready to teach me.

My biggest challenges? Being fully present as the nature of my family shifts, and all of our needs (including the poor dog's!) wrinkle and change. Focusing on my way of being with Thea, with Nikole, with the baby

Or, in the words of my old favorite band, just "open my eyes for the first time... and start feeling all I see."


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