Wednesday, March 29, 2006

How Precious An Example Can Be

Spring actually looks as if she may decide to take up residence in London. As a result, the days improve. When the weather is cordial, I don’t miss human beings. Who could need a an in-the-flesh person when they have daffodils, a crocuses, pansies, and the promise of hyacinth blooms? Who could desire face-to-face conversation when the deer press against the fence to eat fresh new leaves out of your hand.

Perhaps, Winston has a certain wisdom. It is the quality of a human-being which inspires the desire for contact. With few exceptions to this rule, our discovery has been to uncover the quality of ourselves.

It was a great day. Working so much has made me less of the mother I wish to be. I am less patient, less present, less spontaneous. So, those days when I get to be with him, simply shine. Even more so, with the warmth and tentative promise of light this season brings.

Winston got it into his head to go swimming today. So we headed off for Highbury Islington pool. It was the very first time ever we went swimming. Winston has his father’s modesty gene. I forgot to pack a shirt to wear in the pool. He almost refused to go out into the pool “naked.” But, I headed it off by saying, “Well let’s see. Let’s just go see what the boys are wearing.” And he did want to try this swimming thing. So, once we got out there and saw other “naked” boys. He relaxed.

I stepped right into the bath warm water. Grinned and shouted, “this is so lovely!” Which of course motivated him to step in. He loved the way the water became deeper with every step. Within moments he was in. I whirled, swirled and flew him through the water. He climbed out of the pool to slide down the elephant. And I caught him each time as he splashed into the water. He was so relaxed. And in that moment, I I realised that in almost three years, I had earned his absolute trust and confidence. It was lovely. It made me pray, right then and there, that I never do anything to betray that.

After swimming, we had a lovely lunch and went to the playground. Our usual round of sliding, climbing and playing with sand. I had forgotten the sand toys.

But, he looked up at me and said, “well we can always use our hands.”

“And sticks!”

“Good idea. Sticks.”

So, we made letters, numbers and swished and poked the sand. It was extraordinary. I was thrilled by the way in which he could so forgivingly 1. come up with an alternative; 2. force me to improvise and 3. make me grateful that I had made the mistake of forgetting the pails, shovels and trucks.

He was - as usual - a wee bit skittish. He doesn’t like to get to close to other children. he sand pit was full of children about his age. But, we were doing our own thing and he relaxed. (We do our thing really well.)

Towards the end of the day - of course - some child came up to Winston. The little boy filled his spade with sand and before I could stop him - dumped it on Winston’s head. His mother shrugged, said “sorry” and meandered off to have a rest on a bench after telling the boy what a “stupid silly boy” he was.

He shrugged it off. These events - being pushed, shoved, ignored and made to feel invisible - used to devastate him.

This time, he loudly said, “That was a really bad idea. Dumping sand on my head. That was very naughty.”

“You are right. I’m glad you don’t do those things.”

“Yes. I don’t be naughty. I not mean. I a good boy.” Then he went back to playing.

And I begin to think - after so many encounters like this - I’m glad he is wary of the children here. It demonstrates that he has good survival skills. He has a profound wisdom. Never settle for less than you deserve. Make the right choices for yourself. Stay true to your values in the face of a majority which consistently makes the wrong choices. I'm just happy he remembers what it can be like and that this is not all he knows.

NOTE: For my British friends, those of you who do - from time to time - share space with us in a loving, supportive way, thanks for keeping this vision alive for him. And for those I've never met, yes, things are actually different than this back home. 2 and 3 year olds can learn to be empathetic, compassionate, sharing, generous and social human beings who are active, considerate community builders.

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