Friday, June 14, 2013

Old Soul


You keep surprising me. Every step of the way. On some level I think I *should* know about toddlers, children, the things they say, the way they grow, the next "milestone" to look for. Yet for all of my "knowledge" about children and child development, you delight me, you surprise me---shock me!----with your brilliant humanity.

We regularly go to the recreation center in town. I go get an hour or 2 of exercise and you go to the "kids room"--the childcare that the center offers. We just started this a few months ago as my need for this bit of self-care finally pushed me to check out the providers and feel out my comfort level with them. In fact, so far, all of the caregivers have been solid, dependable, lovely, competent and nurturing. Hooray!!---any mother knows how important it is to be able to leave their child in a safe and loving place. And this is working out to be a nice way to have baby-steps toward switching from nanny-care to pre-school in the fall.

Well, a few days ago, when I picked you up from the "kid's room", the woman you'd been playing with said to me, "Zora is just dear. She is so very sweet. She's an old soul."

Zora. You are just dear. You are sweet. You are an old soul.

Now, every parent loves to hear someone say good things about their child. There's a universe of complicated meanings embedded in this very idea---what we long for, what we want to take credit for in our children's lives and beings, how we might be living through our children, .....and then I come back to just how good it feels to see your child shine.... But there's more here for me, Zora. Yes, I am filled with pride and happiness hearing another person see your brilliance. Yet I also know that simply being "likable" is going to serve you well in this life. It's a "protective factor"--yes, another clinical concept! As you navigate life, simply being a kid who grown-ups like may bring you valuable and kind guidance, may offer you shelter in times of confusion, may offer you friendship or mentorship that leads to invaluable adventures. For me, Zora, I rest in the possibility that your kind, sweet "old soul" personality may make your journey one that is more joy than hardship. I do not wish no hardship for you--that's another writing for another time--but I admit that I do wish for you that joy will outshine that hardship. When I imagine that your kind way in the world may protect you from hard times, I find some ease. I can turn my mind away from Wendell Berry's "forethought of grief" about "what my life and my children's lives may be". I can rest in the grace of the world. 


And so just what was this woman referring to when she called you an "old soul"? I actually didn't ask her what you'd done or said that day--I just thanked her deeply for her reflections. 

But here's what I see.

When Papa pulled a muscle in his back a few weeks ago, I rubbed his back and neck many many times over the course of a few days. One evening as I was doing so, you pulled yourself away from your toys and came and placed yourself in my lap----as if to take over the backrub. You placed your hands on Papa's neck and gently rubbed. Your words, which were very soft and swaying, were, "Oh, Baby Papa. Oh, Baby Papa, feel better." Your compassion is breathtaking at times like these. It fills me, Zora. It fills me with so much hope. For you. For humanity. 

Old Soul Eyes!

What else do I see?

I see you drawing forth my ability to be present with you as elegantly and sweetly as the Dalai a bustling party at godmother Lisa's house a few weeks back, you gravitated to your favorite place in Lisa's house--the refrigerator with tons of pictures and magnets. I think it was your place of comfort in the midst of lots and lots of unfamiliar, if not friendly, knees. As I stood close to you, looking around the party and giving you about 80% of my attention, you quietly said, "Be here, Mama. See you." Mind you, Zora, you are in a super-fun stage of language development in which when you say "you" you mean "me" so you were saying, "See me." This felt pretty profound. Your ability to look at your parent and speak your need is inspiring. Your young soul has the freedom to be unabashed, to have a "dependency need" that is untouched by shame. This is beautiful. Your young soul is an old soul. 

Be here, Mama. See you. 

Make a wish.....
What else have I seen of your "old soul"? I have seen you take poignant interest in the sadness or discomfort of others. We are swimming at the pool. A baby is crying. You want to go "hold the baby." We read a book and the 
character is sad. You hug the book over and over. You want others to feel good, to feel happy, to be cared for. May this kindness in you never fade. 

What else do I see?

I see a precious human being who, so far, has been given enough love. Enough love so that that is what you are enacting in your small sphere of daily life. You play in the way that a child plays when offered the fortunate opportunity of nature, slow pace, imagination.You hug trees. You could spend an hour walking just 20 yards from our home because there are so many rocks and blades of grass and bugs to take delight in. You do not hurry. You laugh. You love the words "silly" and "crazy". You offer up the words "I love you" in abundance to us who take care of you each day. We are blessed. 

Thank you, Zora Gloria.