Life seems to ramping up. With the very, unseasonable warm weather of spring, emotion and chaos intrude and demand that I take action. And slowly and more carefully than ever before, I put myself into the fray. And question, always question right now, my reactions, my gut feelings for action versus some more compassionate reaction and response. I am not good at this -- compassion and the like -- but I am eager to learn.
My reactions to Julia are both examination-worthy and a good metaphor for so much more that is going on. Julia does what I tell her to do if I am angry. If I yell, she is compliant. If I am very angry, she scurries to keep me happy. When I am loving and kind, when I ask her reasonably, she is distracted. Yes, some of this is normal in all kids, but Julia is not a typically developing kid and so this behavior, any behavior really, is of bigger consequence. I know that I only have a few more years -- pre-puberty years -- to train her up and instill the right kind of behavior and the most appropriate response.
Julia has been sleeping in my bed since the fall because of her skin. I wanted to try to protect her from scratching at night. The night scratching has waned but she doesn’t want to leave my bed. But she is a tough one to sleep with and finally two nights ago, she was trying to keep herself awake and I finally just put her in her own bed. She did fine. Last night, she tried to settle into my bed while we read but I moved her. I told her when I kissed her good night that if she had bad dreams or needed me during the night she was welcome to come into my bed but that I wanted her to sleep in her own room. She called me back for another kiss and then settled down and seemed to be asleep very quickly.
Also, a few nights ago, Julia was not listening to me or following our usual bed time rituals. I began to get angry and then stopped myself. I told her that if she didn’t want to follow my directions, she could put herself to bed. And I let her do just that. She changed, put her clothes in the hamper, brushed her teeth, put on her night light and got under the covers. When things got quiet and after awhile, I went in to kiss her good night. Since then, she has made a point of telling me she is doing things the first time that I ask.
Julia is learning. And her mother is learning as well.
And other things.
A young colleague from last year’s LEND program gave birth this week. What joy! What wonder! How sweet to see the beginning of a new life.
A dear family who went to China with us to bring home their daughter is welcoming another daughter into their family this weekend. That is, the placement is final this weekend. They celebrate and I can feel the warmth of their joy miles and miles away.
A church friend, who I don’t know very well, has a husband in hospice. And now, I understand. At least, just a little. All I want to do is to be present and helpful to her. This is an opening of the heart that is quite new to me. And wonderful in its own way.
At the same time, I have a colleague who is very angry and is reaching out for some response. There have been times when my first impulse would have been to take sides, to try to flesh out facts and the “truth”, and to make sure justice was done, no matter the pain that such action meant. My view of what is in front of me has changed. I see with different glasses. It is not truth but perception. It is not so much justice, but compassion that is needed. I see pain on all sides. I am looking for another way and I don’t expect to make everything right again. I don’t know if this new way of seeing will result in any help to anyone. At this moment, it is enough to see. If I grow the wisdom to respond helpfully, then I will be thankful.
And Julia is waking up, in her own bed. I hear her pick up a book and start reading. How about that for a miracle?