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The Chaos Box

Pandora let out all the evil in the world. It’s time we put a lid on it.

My kids do not take the high road. Ever. They must get in the last hit, the last word, or the last cry. They’ll sink to the lowest level to prove their point.

They love drama. They take great pleasure in tempting fate and teetering on the edge. They have the energy for drama.

But they forget that I can see the future. That I know how the story is going to play out in the end: One will be crying. The second will be punished. A third will be punished for enjoying the show. And the fourth, well, the fourth usually just needs her diaper changed.

I don’t have time for drama or chaos. But here we live in the chaos house.

I can deal with our internal chaos. I cannot deal with your chaos. Chaos from the outside world is like bees buzzing in my ears. It has to be stopped or at least silenced. I have created a few strategies for making the world stop spinning, crying, and shouting.

The Chaos Box

A while back, I was on a volunteer committee with about 20 of the finest people you ever knew, except one. This one person’s life goal was to be a spirit crushing and negate the wonderful work of 19 other people. After months of biting my tongue (wrong), sharply worded emails (wrong), and avoidance (also wrong), I figured out that the only way to deal with this person was to put her away.

So, I invented The Chaos Box. I opened the lid. I mentally put this person in the box and shut her inside. Because of all the noise and Greek chaos going on inside the box, I couldn’t hear her anymore. She couldn’t make me mad, she couldn’t faze me. A dear friend and I had a good laugh, followed by a sigh of relief at the preverbal silence that resulted.

The Primal Scream

My kids are not silent. They make noise. They fight a lot, they hit, and they snatch toys from each other. But they also laugh a lot. Any smart parent should take notes from their kids.

  • Scream a lot.
  • Laugh a lot.

In college, we had "The Primal Scream" during finals week. Why? Because Organic Chemistry for the third time just makes you mad. Because a class called “Sexual Politics in the Ancient World” makes you want to punch something. Because averaging two hours of sleep a night only prepares you for one thing: Parenthood.

There aren't too many places you can scream without drawing the ire of your neighbors or the cops, so go to the park. Play a game of scream tag with your kids when life has you down.

I really mean it. Open your mouth and scream. Sing it proud and loud when you are mad. If you are like the kids, you’ll end up laughing.

The Chaos Box Redux

If your spouse makes you mad. And your boss. And the psychotic chain of emails from the room mom in your kid’s class. If your family grates on your nerves because the holidays are coming, and you’ve just spent a week in a house with your two siblings and your 12 nieces and nephews. Maybe the world isn’t the problem. Maybe it’s you. You can’t put everyone and everything into The Chaos Box.

Every once in a while, you need to go into The Chaos Box all by yourself. You are the swirling tornado of drama. Step inside, close the lid, and take a time out from the world for an hour or two.

Timeouts works for our kids. Couldn’t it work for us?

Today’s are:

  1. Know when to put the drama away.
  2. Know when to rage.
  3. Know when to silence yourself.

If nothing else, it’s a good excuse to go screaming to the park.

Michael Goettee November 27, 2011 at 04:16 PM
That's one of the wisest articles I've read lately in the midst of all of this current Black Friday-style holiday chaos (which I always skip). I'm going to try to add the "Chaos Box" to my tools for self-improvement. Over my computer is a card someone sent me that says "Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace within the storm." (anon.) I think adding a Chaos Box will help me with that too.
Michelle Newcome November 27, 2011 at 09:10 PM
I write this with a neurotic cat perched on my shoulder, a 10 year old boy trying to wheedle a piece of cake out of me, two beagles who see a squirrel outside somewhere and a 2-days-away-from-being-a-teen daughter who is begging me to wear my very best boots for the fourth time this week. At least nothing is on fire today. I love the chaos box. I need to go outside and scream. I bet that would dislodge the cake, top the cake, shut the beagles up, and make it clear that my boots are my very own.
Nonie Ravenberg November 28, 2011 at 12:03 PM
Awesome. I'm going to keep my Chaos Box right next to the Answer Drawer.
Mary Flad November 28, 2011 at 11:08 PM
Chaos box! Love it. But for the spirit-crushing-mean-people, I think it should be an actual box. Nailed shut.
john penn December 02, 2011 at 07:35 PM
The Chaos Box is cool, but 2 things work better: 1) Knowing that there is nothing that is happening to you that has not happened before; 2) Prayer

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