I mentioned yesterday that I have a newfound committment to gentle living. It isn’t something I haven’t been striving to do, but now I understand I don’t want to simply do something gentle, instead I’m hoping to live a gentle life. I was reminded of this today as my children had their first day of school. My son was excited, but nervous this morning (lip quivering, he needed an extra hug), my daughter was dreading it. I think she is far more aware of the things she is not yet able to master compared to her peers, but in addition she is working through some heavy things right now, remembering all she suffered, the times she was hurt, rejected, abandoned, and the rest…it would send most adults to therapy (rightly so) and eventually that may be what she needs, but right now we talk, hug, listen and reassure.
On Day 1 of school the homework came in full force. My son, very excited to finally be in Grade 1, leaped in with full force. My daughter worked very hard, but Grade 3 is a big jump with harder spelling words, more work sent home and much concentration needed. There were tears twice. Each time I could feel my patience level dwindling, I reminded myself of yesterdays post and breathed. Suddenly encouraging and kind words flowed again in abundance and an understanding about why she is getting distracted (a long day for a wee one!) filled me. Bedtime was relaxed but sleep did not come easy. There was a return to fear based behaviours (quietly taking favourite household items to bed – incase she is taken from home at night (as she experienced in her birth family and previous family), she needs them with her so she doesn’t forget them), there was constant blowing of her nose (anxiety), humming (another anxiety based behaviour) and my talking wasn’t working. Eventually, looking into her eyes I saw the deep fear and asked if she needed me to rock her. Moments later she was in my arms, clasping my hands tightly and her whole body relaxed. Within minutes she was asleep.
My mum didn’t agree with my approach (yes my mum is still here, 3.5 weeks and counting!), there was tutting and shaking of the head, but none of that matters to me. I’m finding my voice as my advocate for my child and what I know is that my children have suffered profoundly, they lived horrors and each day they deal with special needs (in my daughter’s case an injury to her spine which causes pain, hands which don’t quite work as they should, delays in school and memory retention struggles). They live in a world which is not always kind and gentle to those who are different. My daughter works hard to write well, but sees other children younger than her praised for their neat penmanship, while she struggles despite putting in 10x the effort. Today she was away from both me and home for the first time in months. All this to me means she deserved my grace, my patience and my understanding; she is trying the very best she can. And really that is all I can ask and expect.
Tomorrow morning I will tell her how proud I am of her handwriting. I will hug her and count with her her how many sleeps until the weekend and I will write a note in her homework diary informing her teacher how hard she worked on her homework. Yes, the gentle approach which allows for individual differences and sensitivities is where we’ll be, no matter how many tuts we get, it is what my children need and what they’ll live for the rest of their childhood; so help me God…