"My Rose and Thorn were the same thing today." Martin, father of two older boys (seven and ten) and a baby girl, was participating in the parenting class with my husband and me over the past few weeks. Both he and his wife are immigrants, like my husband, which gave them a unique perspective on being parents helping to raise resilient, confident children who work hard but have high self esteem ("good parenting" by American Standards). It helps that the parenting tips and advice aren't American either, they were developed in Australia about twenty years ago, and taught to us by an American Sikh who was raised in India. Overall, the class was very diverse and held viewpoints from all continents except Asia. "I'll explain what I mean," Martin continued.
"We've been having these rainstorms every day that are so intense and right before the storm today, I got a flat tire. I was with my younger son, Andrew, and our daughter and so at first I was really pissed off because I had to change the tire with the kids and it was obviously going to rain soon. We could see the dark clouds looming so Andrew and I jumped out of the car and got the jack and wrench out of the trunk. We were working really well together and we got the tire fixed really quickly actually.
Just as we got back in the car, the skies opened up and it started POURING. Andrew and I were like, 'YEAH! We did it just in time!' and we were so elated. Also the baby stayed asleep the whole time so she didn't get upset. It was a Thorn in my day because at first it was such an inconvenience, but then it was also the Rose because I love having that experience with my son, working together and accomplishing a task in the perfect amount of time."
The four other families and single parent in the group with us all smiled in the vicarious joy of Martin's story. Despite having kids at different developmental stages, the other parents all had experienced something like this in our own lives, only Martin had so poignantly described how the rose and thorn were two sides of the same coin.
Our teacher had been describing how she likes to go around the dinner table every night and do the Rose and Thorn exercise with her family. If we really think about it, we can all come up with these moments from our day. By sharing them, not only are we sharing our frustrating experiences with our families, we're also finding the moments to be grateful for. "Martin, did you tell your son how much you enjoyed spending time with him changing the tire today?" Our teacher asked. "Maybe you should voice that just so that he knows you valued it. He probably felt the elation you shared, but voicing it makes it that much more meaningful." Our daughter isn't even a year and a half yet, but I'm looking forward to when we can do this exercise with her around our own dinner table.