Wednesday, December 4, 2013

i've got your back

On Thanksgiving day Cowgirl received a bead kit from her uncle (he needed some beads for his fly fishing lures and passed on the remainders to us.)  There is a back story to bead kits in my family: years ago I sent one of my nieces what I thought was the deluxe-delight kit of multicolored beads.  Possibilities abounded in that box, but what I hadn't factored in was the probability of an equally massive bead mess.  My curmudgeonly brother called me up just days after that holiday with a "Thanks for the bead set ... may a pox fall upon you and your house."  Or something to that effect.

I actually was unaware Cowgirl had received the kit and had been too distracted to consider the reason she was staying confined to her room.  Any long weekend when she isn't begging to spend "just a little time" on the computer should have me seeking out the thermometer.

It wasn't until late Sunday afternoon that I learned she had the kit and had been absorbed by sorting all the beads by color and size. (The Husband calls it the Montessori Effect.)  Pleased by my child's commitment to such focused attention and detail, I was merrily engaged with a project of my own.

And then the wailing began.

It shouldn't be too surprising to reveal that shortly after sorting all the beads, Cowgirl bumped the tray and yes ... all the beads pooled together in a multicolor pile in the tray and on her floor (which is covered by a shaggy carpet that swallows any and everything short of dirty laundry that falls upon it.) 

I confess, I heard the cries and I sat frozen at the kitchen island.  I suppose I hoped The Husband was tending to this disaster (hope springs eternal) but if I am honest, I just wasn't sure I was up for the task of talking her off that ledge.  

She of course, came down to find me.  She flumped herself into the chair ( I know of no other way to describe the gesture of flouncing, bumping, dumping oneself into a pile of anger and irritation rolled in a crusty covering of frustration and despair), crossing her arms and dropping her chin she issued a sort of growling whining cry.  "I worked ALL DAY and now I've wasted my time!"  (Oh, little sister ... how well I know this lament!)

My usual tactic would be to rush in to comfort, but I've learned (slowly and painfully) to let her unspool her feelings.  I issued the appropriate "I can imagine!" and "Of course you would feel that way!"  until her fury was spent.  Then I suggested she bring the kit downstairs ("But it is too late now!") and together we could sort the beads.

What started out as a disaster turned into girls' time.  Soon we were laughing over those sneaky beads that bounce away, coming up with new strategies for separating small beads and more stable methods for holding sorted piles.  When she slipped out of her chair and came over to hug and thank me, I knew I had earned a parenting merit badge.

Just a few weeks ago there was an incident at school with a classmate and Cowgirl and I discussed how she wanted to handle it.  I listened to her ideas and I gave her my opinion on what I thought needed to happen.  In all of this I wanted her to understand that she is supported and that she has the right and the means to take action and find a solution.  I was bullied as a child, so I am super sensitive to this issue.  I never said anything to my parents and I was unaware until years later that my mother knew what had happened and had talked with my school principal.  My experience was one of feeling alone, frightened and powerless to do anything - except hide.  (I went out of my way to walk a circuitous route to and from school, avoiding as best I could my tormentors.)  I did not want this to be Cowgirl's experience.

I have been learning for myself that there is so much support out there, it's just a matter of asking for it and then believing I am capable of joining my resources with that assistance to find solutions. Sometimes it requires me being clear with myself and others as to my needs.  I know it is a sign of strength, not weakness, to truthfully acknowledge when I am overwhelmed and in need of guidance.  It is also an act of great trust to share my vulnerabilities with another and even more so, to be so honest with myself. 

I keep hearing the Rolling Stones song "Well we all need someone we can lean on ..."

I've been subbing at Cowgirl's school in the preschool class and I want to wrap up this verbal wandering with a story about the Zipper club.  In an effort to encourage the kids to put on and zip up their coats, the teacher implemented a Zipper Club.  I was there the first day of the club and the kids were buzzing with excitement.  Of course, there were the few who still needed help and the other aides were so loving and gentle in explaining to the kids that some of us just need a little more practice.  

The following week I was in and it was time for recess when one boy came over to me to ask for my help.  He still hadn't mastered his zipper yet, so I tried to encourage him to give it a go first.  The lining of his jacket zipped into the coat, so there was a confusion over which zipper where ... I got the zippers sorted and then dropped my hands.  "Okay, you try" I told him.  He got the zipper set and I tell you, it was like Edmund Hilary on the cusp of summiting Everest.  The other kids were leaving for recess and this boy started to become anxious, looking over his shoulder and whining.  

I morphed into football coach mode and began barking at him "Where is your brain?  Get you brain in the game!  Zipper!  Look at your zipper!  Pay attention!"  He turned back to me and the zipper, fumbling to pull it up, attention drifting back to the doorway and his departing classmates.  I almost lost him, he was teetering on the edge of meltdown, but I think I shocked him when I barked "Focus on your zipper!" and up the zipper went.

He looked at me stunned and uncertain.  What had happened?  I said to him "Look at what you just did!"  Saucer big eyes blinked, looked down, then back up at me as he hurled himself into my arms.

Yeah we all need someone we can lean on ... someone to remind us to believe ... someone who knows what we need to know ... that yes, we can ... we can do IT, whatever IT might be.  We just need to know when to seek support and guidance and when to listen to the voices cheering us on.  

 In gratitude for all who have so lovingly supported and encouraged me ... just so you know, I've always got your back and am thankful you are watching out for mine. ♥    



  1. oh. my. gawd.

    i'm clearly hormonal..this post made me cry.


    i have been terribly remiss in my commenting this past while...but i am so in AWE and soaking up all of the goodness -- your last Moon Mandala letter?!?! WOW!! had me reeling!

    oh, YES, YES and YES!! i have your back...always...and am made-warrior knowing you have mine.

    love this, love YOU!

    and omg, our girls could be twins...true story. i TOTALLY heard/saw/felt everything around the Bead Collapse...mirror image of any given Catastrophe that occurs around here on a semi-regular basis. and i must say, you deserve several parenting merit badges for that. i, however, am still working on not joining in the Freak-Out. :)


  2. Lis, I loved this post. I got emotional too, like Mel. I cheered when the boy got his zipper and then fell into your arms for a big hug. Good work, Coach. You are a treasure!