Our children are human barometers. They walk into a room and use their razor sharp intuition and sensitive natures to determine immediately the energy in a room. They quickly sense people or situations near and far that don’t match them in any given moment and don’t hesitate to remove themselves forcibly — and in Henry’s case, with a genuine but definite “Bye!” — if you aren’t doing it for them. They see and feel more clearly, having not collected the energetic baggage and programmed preconceptions most teenagers and adults enjoy.
As I describe in the below blog posted when my son was about two years younger, this is both a beautiful and infuriating role he is more than happy to play. Over the last two years, as vocabularies expanded and interpersonal relationships became more complicated, it has gotten more interesting.
As so many families and folks with children in their lives are in yet another individual and collective “growth period,” this blog seemed an apropos rerun. It’s a reminder that our greatest teachers are often sleeping in the room across the hall, riding a few feet in front of us on the bike trail, sitting next to us at the dinner table spouting silly jokes and observations ripe with wisdom and harsh truth. They are mirrors that immediately reflect what we bring to the moment, how we live in it, what we offer it and when we’re not quite there. Listen carefully.
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The cracks are showing a lot these days, often revealing themselves at inconvenient times. Many wise people in my life lightheartedly (but accurately) call such phases “growth periods,” so I have adopted the habit, as well. Symptoms of a significant growth period include disorientation, emotional vulnerability, sometimes unexplained frustration or impatience, fruitless grasping at control over things decidedly out of your control, loss of focus during business meetings, and bawling at the end of movies containing dogs and/or dolphins and/or kindly aliens. Luckily, they also include great clarity, love, compassion, strength and growth, even moments of extraordinary peace and knowingness – what I would call nirvana. A rollercoaster of evolution.
Basically, like the entire human race, I am experiencing some growing pains. And some times more than others, my cracks show. My son is very aware of this. In fact, he is quick to point them out.
The moment my voice changes and I start to get impatient with him for not putting on his shoes on my swift timeline so we can leave and not be late darn it, he squeezes his eyes shut, shakes his head and goes limp in my arms. If I decide to use my time in the car bringing him home from school to make a phone call and finish the work I was rushing to complete before I left, he decides he needs a drink, a snack and to ask what absolutely everything out his window is during the drive. When I am frustrated with someone, that person becomes his favorite person in the world for the day. When I’m frustrated with myself, he surprises me with a simple act of kindness.
They are such effective teachers, our children. As mine, Henry could be more patient at times, a little less infuriating, but he is only three.
Exactly when I need it, Henry shoves me back into the present. He forces me to let go of control. He shows me how to allow everyone their own cracks and appreciate them all the more for them. He pushes me to look at my own and be grateful for the ability to love myself as much as he loves me, despite them…because of them.
He knows just how far to stick his little fingers in to make that crack big enough to let the light come rushing in.