a prayer for the grownups of children who struggle
this is communal. there is, far as i can tell, not a soul who doesn’t at one time or another come into the ranks. there is no corner, sadly, on this market. no me-me-me thinking you are the only one who knows what it is to lie deeply awake–and not that you’re counting the holes in the ceiling.
you’re racking your heart and your soul and your brain, even your belly, trying to figure out, devise some plot, to push back the struggles that threaten to swallow your little one. or maybe your big one.
you are no less than moses at the red sea, i tell you. you and your rod, standing there, palms raised, as if.
as if you, who does not possess any magical powers, can reach into the brain of a very young person, reach in and straighten some wires. get synapses connected. make them see. make them hear. make them not be afraid. make the letters that spill on the page line up in some sort of sense. instead of backwards and jumbled and utterly, thoroughly awful. so misbehaved, that alphabet.
as if–oh, God, please–you could stand in the halls or the lunchroom, or off to the edge of the playground. make the mean kids go away. stop the big ones from picking on little ones. or the other way around. splinter the words being hurled, the ones that are ugly and poison and might sting forever.
it is hell and it’s lonely besides.
barely a soul is willing to advertise the truth of the matter: not a one of us is merrily sitting back, watching little people skitter through life. as if it’s a pond and they were on skates and they’re gliding. making true loopdy-loops.
nope, i am no researcher, or taker of census. i have not knocked on doors asked, excuse me, is there suffering here?
but chances are good to better than good, the answer is yes. very much so. why, thank you for asking.
in my own little world, in just the last week, for instance, i’ve heard all of this: a child who tried to jump out a window. twice. one who died. one who can’t hear very well and it’s making her mad. you would be too. if all day you struggled to make out the words on everyone’s lips. and the lips didn’t move very slowly. not at all.
i’m not done: a boy afraid to turn out the light. another who won’t. a child who cannot see the big picture and hold onto a small fragile thread. it’s one or the other. and sometimes you really need both.
there’s a girl who keeps having seizures; no one knows why. but do you think, for a minute, her mother rests easy, whenever she’s not in her sight, whenever the phone rings? there are two boys who are watching their lives rip in half, as their parents divorce and it’s not always pretty. and two girls i know who won’t eat. no more than an apple cut in very thin slices. and she’s the one making progress.
my point here is not to make you feel drowning. my point here is just to take a deep breath. whisper a prayer. maybe think twice when you next feel alone. when you happen to think you can’t bear it. when the waves of your worry, and your lack of solutions, pull you down under.
i got to this notion the way i usually do. i thought and i thought. i listened and looked and tucked away stories. i jimmied my heart to the wide-open valve.
and all week i rode the waves of a sea that’s not far from despair. there is a boy who i love who is utterly stumped by parts of the school day. the parts where the words and the pencils are. in first grade, as you might imagine, that is a fairly good chunk of the day.
it is, at this point, still a mystery. as if there’s a fog that isn’t yet lifted. we can’t quite make out the landscape. i asked him last night, when word after word was coming out backwards, what it felt like inside. he took his hands and scrambled them all through the air. i heard my heart crack then.
and i know that that crack is not only mine. i know it rises up from the houses, all over the towns, all over the hillsides and valleys below. all over the world.
it would be headlines, i suppose, if there were a house where never a worry there was. or maybe the grownups in charge are made of something other than my flimsy cloth.
i am not, however, one to cave in to worry. no, i find it a friend. an ally, in fact. it stirs me, propels me, gives me whatever it takes, to take on the very steep climb up the waters that will not be stilled.
the prayer that i pray then is this: that even in the depths of our darkest night shadows, when all that we fear comes out of the closets, leaps ‘round the bed, bangs on the pillows, we might picture each other. know the communion of trembling hands. hearts that will not surrender.
that whatever it is that haunts and plagues all of our children be kneaded away. by heads that are wise. and hearts that are deep and filled with infinite chambers.
that we don’t wrestle alone. that the great and tender hand of our God settles quite firmly at the small of our backs. fills our lungs, too, with the breath that it takes to blow back the winds that are chilling. settles the waters. gives us a chance, and a hope, of making the climb, to the crest of the wave.
where, if we’re so blessed, we can look out at a sea of children who have managed to swim. and are stroking and breathing. and making a magnificent splash.
that’s what i pray.
how about you?
I pray for the little ones each and every day. I pray for those who have taken the risk to have their heart live outside of their body in a little one. I pray that the world leaders here the voices of the children in our midst. I pray for those who long to be a parent of a little one and it just isn’t so yet.I give thanks for the little ones, that amidst all of the struggles of their lives, don’t pretend that everything is A o.k., instead they are real more often than us so-called-wise adults. Whether it is giving a leg-hug to a parent when they walk into the house at the end of the work day, or falling down on the living room floor in a temper tantrum because they don’t want to brush their teeth and leave the confines of home for the day. I love that children are real in more moments than we adults are real with the matters of our hearts and the concerns of our big ol’ minds.I will pray for the little ones that they always have a safe place to be real and that the big people in their midst can find tools and balms that will support them as they deal with the truths of the day that hurt. Wasn’t it the velveteen rabbit whose dream was to be real? I am glad that you bam are willing to be real with us and ask us to stand in the circle with you, even when the fire gets a little too close to our feet.
Very moving, and disturbing. What do you do when you reach the end of yourself? I’m learning to just believe those precious promises in the Bible, and forge ahead, doing all that I can, and trusting Him to do what only He can.
I’m a mom with three absolutely wonderful mostly grown children who have never had an easy day in school in their lives…none have been the ones with the gifts to make the road through childhood and adolesence smooth and reap the honors and rewards of their varying communities. I have come to realize that their individual struggles are part of the wonder of who they will become. My oldest who has complicated LD issues is just about to become a teacher because her struggles have motivated her to go back to the classroom and make use of her insights. She will be a blessing to some parents and their parents. I am also on a support list serve of parents with children from 17-25 who are struggling with a specific issue and the stories shared fill me with humility and awe – all the while giving me wisdom and hope. I have learned not to compare because even the parents of the academic socially talented children have their worries and fears. It comes with the parenting territory. I have realized that we will never not worry because we never stop caring or loving our babies. My dear mom (Alzheimers and all) finds time to worry about her little 40 some and 50 year old darlings! Observation: parenting is not for sissies. I’ d like to put that on some coffee mugs and t-shirts!
All encompassing and empathetically written as always, thank you. I send you all this in keeping with todays entry. “Grant that I may not criticize my neighbor untilI have walked a mile in their shoes”
When my youngest was in 4th grade, she began having panic attacks that then mushroomed into deep anxiety. Worry became part of my every waking and sleeping moment. And then God sent angels my way – one a co-worker the other a neighbor. Both had older children with anxiety issues. The concern, compassion, hope, and understanding they offered soothed my soul. Then another angel entered the dance – my sweet little one’s 5th grade teacher. I gave her time to know my sweetie before I met with her. Didn’t want my little one “labeled”. And wouldn’t you know it, her husband suffers from the same anxiety disorder as my little one. So God sent me more concern, compassion, hope and understanding in the gift of that teacher.
i am sitting here with almost tears….my computer wouldn’t connect to the internet all day, and i knew i had meandered out to that scary and lonely place where i speak straight from my heart, tell truths that require some peeling back of the protective covering we employ in our everyday. but my whole purpose here is to create someplace other than the ordinary everyday world. to create a place that is imbued with something sacred. it is deeply sacred to share the parts of us that ache, that don’t feel wholly whole, that keep us awake. to look at the world through deeply empathic eyes because we know there are always shadows, whether we see them or not. i think of strolling through a museum, being stopped in my tracks by a magnificent creation of art. it is, more often than not, the one with the light and the shadows, the suggestion of darkness and depth, that haunts me. that makes me remember it all these years later, still tingling. it is the same with humanity, at least in my eyes. embracing the brokenness has long been where i’ve found deepest divinity. but still, even though i live that way, it is scary sometimes to write on the edge of the limb. so, as i couldn’t get on the computer, couldn’t check to see how the conversation was going–or if it was going at all, or rather might have kerplunked–i was a little bit wondering…..and then, just now, when the computer wizard got home and got things connected, i read five beautiful stories of friends and even a soul i don’t know, who reach out their arms, share their stories, their prayers, and confirm that sometimes, even among virtual strangers, there is room for truth and velveteen rabbits. carry on………but first, deeply, thank you.
My closest friend reminded me yesterday that character is what you do when no one is watching. Selah.This pull up a chair author is obviously writing up a storm, a l o n e at her computer, quietly preparing today’s tornado.Instead of “How many comments today?” with the more the merrier, the LESS comments requires more character in the author. She has to do this. She is internally compelled. Driven.Just keep writing sister, you long distance swimmer you, and God is going to use you in mind blowing ways.
you’ll could never realize what a blessing to others this site is…I found it by accident, can’t express in words how it has touched me, you are doing God’s work, speaking to and touching other’s lives in ways you don’t even know. God bless you!
Thelonius wants to add one more riff .I’m not saying TONS, hundreds of comments are not a big blessing–they ARE!Just admiring the way you GO FOR IT when no one’s watching.That’s the key to greatness.’Cuz Someone IS watching. All the time.
Gosh, I recognize your worry about the little lost reader who spins his hand and arms to describe what trying to decipher words is like. When my younger sister was a child and grading was A-F even in 1st grade, she got Ds and Fs. She would start each school year asking teachers if they had ever taught me, then sigh with relief if they hadn’t. She would memorize states on a map, then write them in with the top states on the bottom and vice versa. My mother and father worried, and I could see it. I heard them speak quietly to one another once of “What is going to become of her?” This worry really scared me.Lo and behold, this sister is now the most voracious reader of the siblings, she graduated college, married my mother’s favorite son-in-law, and she’s a hero to me because she and her husband adopted a pair of brothers , ages 3 and 6, whose parents’ rights had been terminated due to neglect. The boys are not great students, and have some learning issues, but they feel GREAT about themselves and are really well-rounded, interesting and interested, now teens ages 14 and 17. They are great campers and workers and they are fun. Whatever the difficulties my sister had with school work, and there were many, she had just the right perspective to adopt a sibling pair with some of the same issues. I don’t think I could have taken on the responsibility that she and her husband have, and that she could might be due in part to her experiences as a child.
P.S. For a quick read book about someone who had multiple learning differences that he used to his advantage (because he saw and sees the world differently than most of us) ready “Copy This!” by and about the founder of Kinko’s Copies.
Yes, Thelonius, there are some of us who read and never post a comment, but the content of this site speaks loudly to us … sometimes rendering us speechless.
Here’s my prayers for little ones who struggle, and it is the same prayer as for everything else: Lord have mercy, and Thy will be done.My little one struggles–she can’t hear so well, and actually it seems to fluctuate mysteriously, complicating a proper diagnosis and correction. But I know she’ll be okay, no matter how I worry. Little ones are practically supernaturally resilient. And the strugglers, somehow, seem to come out stronger for it.