family harmony

Millay on trail_9601

Are you fortunate enough to have a peacemaker in your home? Someone who reaches out, often in moments of tension, to massage the moment and the individuals struggling through it?  Over time, I’ve had more than one child who has filled the role, but the one currently on duty, as it were, is doing a splendid job.

Miss Peacemaker, no surprise here, is also my flower lover, my vocalist, and, on occasion, my Consolation Baby, as I explained in an earlier post about a beloved Mother (also a peacemaker) who left this world just as Miss Zinnia was preparing to come into it. Here’s what we sometimes forget about those who sew and harvest peace.

Because they often operate on the down low, they tend to be less noticeable, their personalities gifting them with a natural skill for moving around backstage rather than stepping up to the mic. In fact, backstage work is by definition invisible to the audience, yet it becomes one of the engines that powers a production.  Example. The other night, some tension was building. (I’ll leave it there.) And Miss Zinnia stepped in quietly, as she often does, to begin her de-mining work. She started with distraction techniques: luring a brother away from his frustration so that he could get comfortable in a better mood. Little jokes–affectionate ones–set the tone. Then she pulled out her professional power tools: “Can you believe ______?” or “Look at that!” or “Help me do ______!” or “Let’s ______!” or “Try this with me!” She was in fine form, and, before you knew it, they were walking along, she with her arm around him, and he with his questionable mood deposited five blocks behind us, so freshly, surprisingly happy that you might have been forgiven for wondering whether there was something in the snack crackers he’d just eaten. To massage his mood, she even went so far as to pull out the ultimate tool: The Carry, as in carrying him on her back off and on for the rest of the evening. This was quite an accomplishment, since, though she may be significantly taller than he is, her reedlike body has not fitted her for the work of toting a nine-year-old boy nearly as well as her nature has fitted her with the inclination to do so.

When I sat back later and thought about the fruits of her labors, I realized how fresh and sweet and mature they were. Moreover, because she took the sting out of a fraught moment, it was all too easy to fall back into the enjoyment of store fronts and bright lights and the general splendor of Bones Festes and forget the fact that Evening 2.0 was brought to us by our stealthy Behind The Scenes Peacemaker.

They deserve the Nobel, these almost-adults, these teens, who, in spite of having to navigate the treacherous rapids of teenagehood every single day, continually rise to occasions that demand deep reserves of imagination and selflessness. But wouldn’t you know it: the Nobel always goes to the (more visible) old guys, although, to their credit, they often blithely give the money away and no doubt shove their nifty plaques in their sock drawers.

It is special when a teen steps in to quietly carve away conflict. And because that act becomes its own reward, making it all but invisible to the very people who most benefit from it, Moms and Dads have an opportunity to make the doer of those acts visible, by saying, “I noticed.  And I am most grateful.”

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