09 March 2012

"Beyond this place, there be dragons!"

In 1992, Megan McKenna, a Ph.D. in Liberation Theology and Scripture from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California, wrote in an article under this title:

“THESE words, found on every map more than five hundred years ago, are what the mapmakers wrote at the place where their worlds stopped. It is the place beyond that lures every adventurer, every dreamer who lives out the lure, every missioner, everyone who searches for God.”

“Where their worlds stopped.”

From yesterday: I am busy and not taking time to reflect here. I find it hard to balance my moving forward and looking backwards but I value the exercise.

I started working on my Quest application (http://www.questaspiritualjourney.com/). The application is due April 1, the program starts in September. I am taking the application seriously and considering it part of this exercise in reflection. I am excited to enter a program to deepen my spirituality but ask me why and I cannot really provide a cogent answer. It is what I am. It is a path that I am compelled to follow.

Is that enough?

I finally got down and started reading about investing. Nick has encouraged me to understand my financial affairs and to learn enough to be independent. I am dreadfully scared of doing so. I tend to become immediately bored, even though I have enjoyed listening to financial reporting and stories on NPR for years. I need to abandon my fears and slowly I am doing so. Very slowly.

I found another five boxes of books -- labeled Cheshire’s stuff, but really just books that were on her shelves. Some are kids books, in fact, some have been missing from Julia’s shelves since we got to Madison. Clearly, I had packed books of similar size together very efficiently and then spaced the idea when those boxes hit the basement. There are tween and teen books that I will shelves with my books and have them available for when Julia is ready. There are many books that Cheshire had “borrowed” from other bookshelves in the house. I sorted out some which will go to the school bookfair and some for Half Priced Books.

I had them in piles by the time that Julia got home after Attachment Therapy. She wanted to look at them and there was no reason other than my ordered piles not to let her do it. She asked about some of them, what they were about, if they were for kids. I answered the best that I could. I allowed her to make a mess, totally dismantling my piles, mixing all of the books, even going into the boxes that will leave the house. I will do a bigger clearing, sorting, and rearrangement of books -- the books on her shelves in the play room and in her bedroom -- tomorrow. She is ready for some changes. She is also ready to have some of what is upstairs brought down to encourage her reading different books with her therapists. I have time on Friday to do this and hopefully I can do it all in one day. Although I had no problem with her destroying my ordered piles today -- she was thumbing through, reading a few words, looking at pictures -- it is work to be done and moved on from.

This weekend, I will tell Julia what I did with the books on the floor and will show her where “her” books are put on our living room book shelves. They will be the books without many pictures which rather annoy her right now. I am almost confident that she will seek them out one day.

Julia is almost ready for reading silently. When she reads out loud now, she sometimes skips ahead to check out the end of a page. She skips little words -- the a’s, the’s, but’s -- in an impatience to understand and swallow the story. I don’t remember this particular state in my own development and not in Cheshire’s. It seemed that one day, I was reading out loud to my mother and teachers and the next I did it silently. Julia’s transition is more drawn out, but what it is to see it coming!

In Attachment therapy, we worked again on “A Dinosaur’s Tale,” the trauma workbook that I wrote about Julia’s early life. Marilyn suggested that Julia read again the page she was working on last week. That text was:

“The Ayi galimimus took the crying baby girl t-rex and gave her the bottle that was wrapped with her in the blanket. She laid the little t-rex down next to a baby stegosaurus and covered them both with the blanket that the baby t-rex had been wrapped in. She called the baby t-rex, Bai-Bai, and the baby stegosaurus, Miao-Miao.”

After Julia re-read the page, she decided that she had to work more on the picture she had drawn and colored last week. The original picture was of the two baby dinosaurs -- a t-rex and a stegosaurus -- curled together in sleep. They slept on a big checked blanket. Julia added the bottle that the Ayi gave to her and also dream bubbles -- like thought bubbles -- from the two dinosaurs of the two babies playing together. When she brought the finished picture back to us, she was happy. The words she wrote belong the picture were about loving each other and loving to sleep together. The joy she took from this picture filled her.

Then it was time to move on to the next page. In truth, there are very few very happy pages in this workbook and it does pain me over and over to have to move from the joy to the pain. The text of that page is:

“The Ayi galimimus fed all of the little dinosaurs in the big nest. She changed their diapers and changed their clothes. Sometime she kissed a baby dinosaur but she did not look lovingly into the baby t-rex’s eyes and she did not say loving words to the baby t-rex. She did not have time. Sometimes the baby girl t-rex cried because she wanted the Ayi galimimus to hug and kiss her and look lovingly into her eyes, but if it was not feeding time or changing time, the galimimus did not come. The baby t-rex learned that even when she cried for a long time, no one came. She stopped crying and just felt very sad.”

As Julia read this page, her demeanor changed. She slowed her reading and by the end of it, she looked like she was ready to cry. Julia has not yet cried over words on a page, but that will come. And come soon, I think. This was the first time I’ve seen her so effected by written words. She is understanding and taking in the journey and the message of this workbook. I hope she is owning the story, and she claimed it as her own from the very beginning. She works and draws dinosaurs but she is very aware that it is her story. The first thing she said was that “the little dinosaurs didn’t want to be left alone.” Then she took the page and went into the other room and started drawing.

A side note: I have worried at the suggestion, implied not made at school, that Julia’s decoding is far ahead of her reading comprehension and that just maybe it would always be so. When she feels the story as she did on this page, I have no need to worry. She is growing in comprehension.

She drew a lot of baby dinosaurs crying together. She drew the little t-rex standing slightly away from the others, looking sad and confused and somewhat upset. Yes, indeed, I could read all of that from the picture. Her comment was that “she couldn’t stand that noise of all that crying.” And Marilyn said that Julia was commenting on her real experience. I wonder if that is the origin of her sensitivity to sound.

Julia didn’t finish that picture. She will next week. This is page 10. She is working on one or two pages a week although I suspect that this will slow down now. I don’t know so much about this process and I depend totally on Marilyn to keep us, especially Julia, safe on this exploration. It will take months to get through this very sad workbook. I see Julia’s strength and endurance as she dives into each page. Even when she is reluctant to begin, she finds a way to do the work. She does not look away. She tried to avoid one sad picture a few weeks ago, but it seems like she understands the value in the process. At least on some level. And she works hard and takes the work seriously. Whatever comes from this process, we will end up with a book that is at least as important as the photo life book that I made for her. Maybe much more.

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