[T]he mother who is not up to children is at their mercy, and need expect no quarter. But she must see without watching, know without telling, be on the alert always, yet never obviously, fussily, so.Charlotte Mason
In her third volume, Charlotte Mason includes an entire chapter on the concept of masterly inactivity. This is, to some extent, parenting by doing nothing. Lest you think this is akin to laziness or carelessness, I refer you to the above quote. The struggle for me is in feeling that I must be actively doing something in order to effect any purpose. But yesterday I once again made the conscious decision to engage in masterly inactivity, and the result was that I had to pretend I was not laughing.
Q-Age-Five was playing with some glass figurines on the kitchen bar, and she had balanced one rather precariously on top of another. My masterly inactivity is always encouraged by the completely overbearing nature of E-Age-Ten in times like these.
“It’s going to fall!” he declared.
“No it isn’t!” she retorted pridefully.
This is a very common sort of interaction between my two know-it-alls.
I’m sure you can imagine the no-it-isn’ts and yes-it-ises that flew back and forth after that. A-Age-Seven looked up to me with pleading eyes, but since it didn’t seem to be escalating, I decided to step back and see who God would teach through this. Would it be Q-the-Careless (to say nothing of her pride)? Would it be E-the-Enforcer (how many times have I reminded him that I, in fact, am the parent)?
They both needed correction, but I knew only one would get it because only one would be proven right and whoever was wrong? Well, whoever was wrong would be the one corrected.
I was amused, what can I say?
Finally, Q-Age-Five went too far.
“No! It! Isn’t!” With each word, she pounded her tiny fist upon the bar.
Really, I couldn’t have planned it better myself. With the last pound, her little figure fell from grace and landed on the bar, split into three or four pieces.
Daughter Q. disappeared to the floor. Being on the other side of the counter, I couldn’t see her, but I could hear her breathing. I knew tears were imminent.
She came plowing around the corner, her face in her hands. I admit it: I was trying not to laugh at her.
“Mom, I’m so embarrassed,” she whispered in my ear, wetting my face with her tears.
Still, I said nothing, but just held her tight.
Pride, they say, it goeth before things like this. My hope is that it leaveth this child in time.
Want to Go Deep With Masterly Inactivity?
The talk Brandy’s been giving (you already own the video version if you purchased the Leading Well retreat in 2017) is now available in the Afterthoughts Shop. Try masterly inactivity! It’s not a hack — it’s a way of life. ♥
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