‘Now, NVC-ers love to mess things up because an NVC-er doesn’t try to be perfect. We just try to become progressively less stupid. When your objective is to become progressively less stupid, every time you mess something up, it becomes a cause for celebration. It gives you a chance to learn how to be less stupid.’ – Marshall Rosenberg (Being Me, Loving You, p. 61)
An NVC-er is someone who practices Nonviolent Communication.
I’m a very beginner NVC-er. This is good. Very good. I am slowly learning to draw from my experiences as a parent, friend, business owner; and while it’s not easy to be deeply connected to thoughts, emotions, and needs – real-time – nonviolent communication is a good strategy to staying present.
One afternoon, Sofia and I ate lunch at a Taqueria Arandas. She loves to eat salsa and usually ‘bogarts’ the dish. In a rather quick accidental moment, she tipped the salsa over and it spread all over the table. While my reaction was quick it was calm – not upset that it occurred; however, I noticed my growing concern was that she would play with the salsa (as most 2-year-olds love exploring textures) and because she was dealing with allergies I feared she would rub the salsa in her nose or eyes. My action, as I saw her little hand reaching to do the exact thing I thought of, was to grab her arm and hold it away from the table. It was a rather forceful action and her reaction was to resist. And when she did, I became more forceful and squeezed her arm tighter and stronger so that she could not move it at all – at the same time, I was cleaning the table with my other hand and explaining to her my fear.
When all was said and done, I was surprised that she didn’t throw her normal tantrum at ‘being controlled’. Instead, she showed me how I grabbed her arm and said, “Mommy, you did this to me.” She proceeded to squeeze her arm and make a wincing face. I felt pretty damn stupid. But instead of sulk in that guilt of having not ‘done better ‘, I reiterated my concern, my fear, and that it was not my intention to injure her. I apologized and asked for her forgiveness. She gave me a warm look, reached for my arm, kissed it and held it. She accepted my apology.
This was an amazing, loving experience. It is a shift from how I parented my firstborn son. Not only am I wiser and more aware, I am learning strategies that keep me present to my needs and to that of those I love.