Two things happened this week that on first glance appear unrelated. But then, as we know, when we look a little closer and reflect on it we see that everything is connected and related.
So first. In my professional life this week I found out that someone close to me could not actually be trusted. Real bummer. I have had all the feelings that seem to arise in these situations. Anger, sadness, resentment, perplexity, self-blame, blame and so on. And yes, I felt very betrayed. But then trust is high on my value list….although I am unsure what exactly this means….work in progress.
In the middle of it all I am asking myself what trust is and how it is developed? Are we born trusting or do we develop the idea of trust related to behaviours when we learn language and concepts?
In the case above I could really reduce it to the following. The person I trusted made a decision that taking the action they took was worth the cost. The cost is most likely our friendship and working together. The cost in this case feels a little like me! I am the price! So the benefit they see, whatever that is, seems to outweigh the costs.
So there we have it. A familiar situation maybe for some of us. But then I started thinking about the idea that trust is to some extent a mirage. We say we trust, or say someone is to be trusted, but this really has no meaning unless we know the context.
I trust Lehla with the children. She trusts me with them. I trust that my car will work and not collapse. There are things and people. And ideas. We trust thinking paradigms too. Philosophies. Usually until they seem to stop serving us well enough and so we reach (in existential angst) for some add on concepts that we blend with the main platform. I can feel myself going into a metaphor here about website building…..but I will resist the temptation.
So I am a curious person and am thinking, where on earth did my ideas of trust actually come from?
What are my expectations about it? Hot on the heels of that bit of rumination came the parental framing.
What are my children learning about trust?
How are they learning it?
From me, Lehla, each other, friends? At this point in their lives it is not yet in books although now I think about it some of the books we are reading at the moment are offering up, in their conceptual underpinnings, many ideas about trust and betrayal.
So now to Chocolate. Or should I yell CHOOOOCCCOOOOLLLLAAATTTTTEEEEEE!!!!
Yes, the largest chocolate festival in the world happened every year on our doorstep. The Perugia EuroChocolate Festival.
Off we go. Children salivating. Me and Lehla bracing ourselves. For here we are at the front line of the nag factor, the whine, the ability to persist in trying to break down our resistance in the face of every kind of NO we can muster. For the irresistible lure of chocolate really puts the trust issue centre stage.
We do not practice chocolate austerity at home. On the other hand we do not practice chocolate profligacy either. We try to tread a middle path. Chocolate has its place and is used at a moderate to low level by all of us. And the design of this part of our family relationship is that when it comes to sweets generally they are not a part of our lives. The sugar filled, insulin bombing, child helter skelter ones, usually very bright colour, red, orange or mauve and so on, are rare visitors and usually brought in by others. (curse them)
But chocolate…….well we have a relationship with it. And for the kids this relationship is a constant one of weighing up the cost benefits of eating as much as they can when they get the chance. The cost to them will be breaking an agreement they have made with us and each other and then having to figure out how to repair that. The cost to themselves is also about how they feel. The gorging of chocolate usually leads to initial euphoria and energy and then a plunge off the cliff to fatigue and irritability. Classic sugar impact. The kids now know this. They even go into it saying things like “I better no eat too much Daddy!” And then they do. Anyone recognise the mechanism?
This is another form of trust. Trust in your own words or agreement to yourself. So it seems we weigh up the pros and cons and maintain our agreements with ourselves and each other until we either A, can’t help ourselves or B, make a decision that what we perceive is the gain. Either way at that point we have decided that the price is worth it, be it short or long term.
We did for a while give control over the chocolate to the kids themselves. We talked about it first. We ran them through the adult outside boundaries that adults ought to set, like, please don’t smear the chocolate on the sofa. Also please don’t eat the whole bar at once and we negotiated how long the bar was to last.
We then agreed what the consequences of breaking the agreements would be. Say, miss a week’s chocolate, or do someone else’s house task like emptying the compost and so on. The kids showed all the signs you would expect from any chocolate loving human. They play fast and loose with the agreements we had made together as they balanced the desire for the reward with the knowledge of the consequence.
So the EuroChocolate is what we might call a day off! Rules are suspended a bit and chocolate will be consumed. And my oh my, an unbelievable amount of chocolate! You name it, it was there. Clothes made of chocolate and even shoes! See the picture above.
And as we were all overwhelmed at having this smell and visual chocolate seduction overwhelm us, as a natural response we told the kids we would give them a chocolate budget and that would somehow limit their consumption. But then they announced that had their own money with them!
In the end common sense prevailed enough and we got home sated and a little giddy with ‘chocolatitus’ but no ambulance was called and we were all still standing up.
I have a headache this am. Not surprised. In the end I could not be trusted at the chocolate festival either and ate more than I intended and agreed with myself. There you go.
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