Long ago, I was about the same age my son is now: a wise fourteen. One would think I had some intelligence. I got excellent grades in honors / Advanced-Placement (AP) classes and did all the well-rounded things too like participate in clubs and do community service. Yet, somehow I took up the plunger one evening and my brain went on vacation. The shower water was on to warm-up and I had a towel round me while waiting and… I picked up the plunger. Somehow, I thought it would be fun / wise / sane to plunge the bathroom mirror. The entire 6 foot by 4 foot thing came off the wall at my head and I screamed as I dropped the plunger and threw up my hands. My father came bursting in to my rescue, helped guide the precarious mirror to the counter, noted the lack of blood / damage, and kindly didn’t mention the lack of towel. (It took me several years to admit that the little mirror clamps hadn’t just broken because I was experiencing an overwhelming combination of fear, shock, and abject embarrassment!)
So… what does this have to do with parenting. There are times when I can’t imagine the depths of insanity that must be present for my child to have taken a certain action and then… I remember the plunger. I simply cannot explain where my usually sensible-self went for those thirty seconds and if I could have been that loopy, perhaps I can be a wee bit understanding of my child. It doesn’t change that there are consequences for actions and I can definitely still lose my cool. But, the parenting-power of the plunger is that I can have some compassion for the most egregious actions. After all, if I could plunge the bathroom mirror at fourteen, my child might actually just need some more kindness and support and time. When I start to think he’s just completely crazy, I can summon the parenting power of… the plunger!