Sep 5, 2014

If Then And Now

Being near tears at times during the day because all those experts in all those books I've spent hours reading prove true. That these little minds do want to learn and do teach themselves when left to it. They invent games. They ask for help when teaching themselves to sew. They make art. They teach themselves computer programming. They create worlds in pixels. They learn to cook. They learn to help. They mirror compassion. They mirror frustration. They seek out companionship. They plan ahead. They pool their resources together and set goals. They ask hard questions. They teach me to not feel guilty to ask questions. They absorb my every ounce of energy to think and hinder housework. They are excellent chore doers. They are worth it. They are gifts. They remind me to be kind. They remind me to practice mercy. They remind me to smile. They make messes. They make big messes. But so do I. They have freedom to play at the sewing machine for hours. It's not nonsense time wasting. They have freedom to play with water guns and soak themselves. It's not foolishness. They have freedom to spend hours on Scratch creating a computer game. They have freedom to run outside to play in the minute long end of the summer showers. To collect their drops in cans and bottles and canisters. To absorb the change of temperature as the big sun sets into night. To watch the bats fly out at dusk. To visit with family and to greatly appreciate all that is beautiful and unique about each member. They have freedom to write letters to friends, to cousins, to whomever however many letters however long. They have freedom to paint. To value what they paint. To value what others paint. They can make messes with vinegar and food coloring and baking soda and glitter and cornstarch and make big messes. They are learning to not ever feel like the creative and the fun and the silly are luxuries reserved for some other time. Reserved for some other people. They are learning to be cooperative. To be considerate. To be creative. They are learning the mechanics of the sewing machine. The workings of game programming. The value of plenty of good books on hand to read. To not feel guilty for being curious about what doesn't fit in the classroom.

And once upon a time I sat in a living room and pulled out second hand encyclopedias and read for the fun of it, and I sat in the shade of decades old pecan trees and observed the ant lions for hours, and I swang on a sun bleached yellow plastic swing and sang my heart out, and I walked around Granny's yard as she pointed out all of the different herbs she grew. Smelled them. Pinched them. Tasted them. Observed her ingenuity. The reused scraps of fabric she tied the stalks of the plants back with. Memorized the shape of her disfigured pinky nail and the story of how it got that way. The plastic milk jugs she reused to collect rain water. Observed the mosquito larvae wriggling in their pools. I memorized the cracks in the sidewalk as I explored to the end of the thousandth Kayton Ave. block. Memorized the coo of the turtle doves. Made potions with the pollen of the pecan trees. Laid on my back on the still hot summer sidewalks to observe the stars. Observed mollies give birth to live young. Memorized what my aquarium fish book taught me about bettas. Spent hours watching my betta flare his gills at my finger poking the glass of his bowl. Watched him jump out of the bowl to grab his ball-pellet of food stuck to the tip of my finger. Spent hours watching wild life documentaries. Watching educational videos from the library. Sign language. Reading lips. How to draw. How to belly dance. Knowing what shelf in the library had my favorite books on how to draw animals. Books about fish. Goosebumps. Science experiments at home. Pulling apart the flowers of the crepe myrtle trees. Squeezing their soft petals out of their buds. Dissecting the seed pods of the mesquite tree and remembering that it leaves hands sticky. Those racing ants that speed over its' often horizontal trunks. Races in class to see who could write the most in a minute. Reading and reading and reading. And staying up all night to finish my newest Goosebumps book. Catching tadpoles in the Frio. Catching minnows in plastic cups. Scooping up algae from the nasty bottom and sides of a circular plastic pool with aquarium nets. Picking up pecans to eat fresh; the only way they should be eaten - cracked open against another. The acidic nastiness of accidentally eating a piece of the not-soft wall of the inside. Melting ice cubes with table salt. Often being the last one to get the joke, but the first to understand why.

These days with these littles brings my little days up to the surface. But I was an alien in my tardy after the bell school attending. Forced to push out of mind the trauma of mean words in alcohol drenched late nights. That little me was never safe it seemed. The learning institutions said education was a way out. They said I had a ticket out of the pain because of above average test scores. That didn't solve the dependent maternal child. Didn't solve the loss of fraternal lucid guidance. And the cool security of these little four smiles sits in stark contrast always to that lost little me one. That frizzy haired too skinny one. That one who sat in adults' presence at times for only their criticism for not eating enough. For not focusing enough on school. For not being able to shake off the weight of the trauma of the beer binging induced fear. Insecurity. King David said, 'My sin is always before me.' So it was with the lack of coordination of the little me. The continued insecurity. The broken loss of fraternal lucidity. That saintly fraternal hole. Always it sits before me. Then just as weakly now. And I grieve for what was lost. And I am lost for what could have been. If only the joy I found in getting lost in long walks was nourished. Valued. If only that curiosity for all things biological had been encouraged. Not by mere words. Words of encouragement by adults older and wiser couldn't touch the surface of the daily sadness, the daily weight of everything not being okay. They were empty words of encouragement then and they continue to be empty shells of encouragement still. And teachers' eyes would light up at little me's immediate understanding of ideals and equations and themes and formulas and theories and mechanics and definitions. And teachers and counselors would hold little me up on a pedestal with stars in their eyes with all powerful hope of my home life not being triumphant over my above average test scores. They said, I think, that those tests would be a way out of the broken home. Of the pain of the broken home. And little me wanted desperately to believe them. Desperately to have hope. But even little me knew better. The hope of the future with the above average test scores was a false hope. Saint Paul's description of a hope that doesn't disappoint was absent in those test scores. How could a high test score erase the pressure of the maternal child in need of care? Still in need of care. Her glory and mantle of pain never failing to eclipse the achievements of that smaller than average little me.

More sensitive than most. For the slight and small nuances of life and facial expressions and tones in speech and choice of words do not go unnoticed by my hyper-sensitive eyes. So I say that had another person gone through that slightly-rougher-than-what-most-go-through childhood, they would have fared far better. All of the offensive glares at me. The look on supposed to be mother's face as she shot me the finger when I whined about not being in bed late on a school night. When she looked at me with dislike, hate even, in her eyes, I could never shake the pain of that rejection because for me the pain was far greater. I felt it deeper. Longer than most others. And drunk adults would tell me how I was an old soul. They would tell me their secrets because they considered me an equal. I was intelligent and observant and slow to speak. So they took advantage of my innate wisdom by confiding in me the pain of those secrets. And I was left in charge of the groceries. And I was trusted to take little sister to school. To discipline her even. And I was just a broken little girl. And I was just a broken sensitive intelligent little girl. And I hurt more than most. And I understood more than most. And I thought more than most. So I was more vicious in my pain than most. I was more free with my venomous tongue than most. Deep hurt and lack of nurturing led to justification for disrespecting the hearts of others, even myself, more than most.

And with hot tears welling up in the soft pockets of my not-quite-hazel-mom-eyes I say never. Never to allow the needs of little me to eclipse the glory of these four littles. Never to allow the shine and hope in their eyes at the wonder of the ant lion to fade. To never put out the joy they have when they seek to create a cape for puppy stuffed animal. I say never to be a child in need of them ever. I say never to be unwilling to treat my mental illness. To always be lucid and present in their lives. To be present and to answer the phone when they call. To never leave them waiting long after the dismissal bell has rung. To never pass out drunk and leave them to fend for themselves. To never sear images in their minds of me being lost in an illusionary reality. To never quench their dreams. To allow them the freedom to dream. Not wanting them to remain children dependent on me for life. My mom heart asks, "Why?" and "How?" How could a maternal heart allow it's needs to selfishly swallow whatever light of potential found in their sweet sensitive child's eye? How?

But not 'how' and 'why.' No. Just the determination that it will end here. That it won't continue and spread it's filth past me. No matter my awkwardness and insensitivity to the nuances for the deeper understanding of the whole. No matter the pain of the past their present joy conjures. No matter the dependance on heavenly grace to treat the pain. My pain will be treated that their light and life of curiosity will thrive and not be quenched. And I will not put the weight of my pain on their shoulders ever. And I will defend their right to innocence as long as I'm able. And I will be open and honest with myself and my God that I will never prove to be too big a hypocrite to bear any clout. And my heart will break alongside theirs. Not to shame them.

And the pain of the lost potential of the past is a reminder always for the need of empathy. For never being able to understand the situation of another in its' entirety. Never having the audacity to say to another person to, "Get over it." To never think that. To never say to another, "You shouldn't let that bother you." To never assume to have all of the answers to another's questions. No never. The pain behind eyes forged in the complexity of the broken home is a mystery to those aliens eating three square meals a day. Foreign to those, even my littles, who say, 'Good-night Mom and Dad," every night. Never, no never, assume quaint platitudes will ease the pain of the untreated mental illness. Ask the children of those ill. They suffer for the ignorance. Never assume as a sitter-in-central-air-conditioned-home to have the answer to rampant poverty evident in overgrown lawns and broken down cars in lawns and second hand ill-fitting clothes. I don't know. I could never know. I will never assume that my ignorance of the struggle of the lesser is great enough. I can't know. The weight behind the eyes of the child awed by the luxury of buying name brand food. That's untouchable by my privilege. So the pain of my past, may it never cloud my ability to empathise. I can not know. I can not ever assume to know the situation of the other. Of the struggling. Of the less than. Of those who could now benefit from my charity. No above average test score or extravagant gift will heal the pain of the little one lost in their broken home. No legislation will solve the injustice of little being in need of home.

And my past is a foundation for the now comfortable present. And my past is a scar fire branded into my flesh. And my past and my pain are untouchable by your words. But I will not have that past mire littles' present. That their hearts will never bear the weight of mine. But where does said perfect love deity fit into these seared scars? For all of the pain that He endured it seems illogical to assume that my pasts' present pain is above His understanding. Yet so I feel. I push away His comfort in the guise of being too hurt to heal. Give these pains to Him, He asks. And so I attempt to do. To give to Him all the remnants of the hurt, but as I attempt to do this, the pain surges up to the surface again, and I have to halt the surrender. Can it hurt too much to have it heal? Can said clouded deity bring awkward hypersensitive then-little into the healing comfort of His said perfect love's heart? Questionable, says the learned cynic. I doubt it. Said master engineer of all things natural and physical. Master builder. Master Maker. Master creative heart behind the colors in the feathers of the birds of paradise. You, You say, to come to You all who labor and are heavy laden and You will give rest for our souls. You say You hear me. You say You are near me. I look into the eyes of my miracles of littles and I think I touch a tiny piece of what it must be to be Father Creator You, only slightly. But this small taste of the pride You must feel at the sight of Your miraculous creation is fleeting and I wonder if, at all, it is possible for You to ever wonder at me. That the tiny mind, broken in youth, mastering skill after skill of said assessment test of youth, that that is a miracle and a marvel You made that You have the right to be proud of. That you are proud of what You made when You made me. Them, my littles, it's true, I can not question the miracle of them, but me? Mighty Deity, how could broken and pained me be the apple of Your eye? Could You possibly sit above me and receive joy at my keen observation? At my ability to turn things, thoughts, observations over and over in my mind until at last maybe a glimmer of greater understanding of the whole is eeked out? Is that something You love?

It is easy to accept these four for being fearfully and wonderfully made. But me? No, I'm just little. I'm just alien tardy after the school bell.

And I never feel that the time for complete comprehension occurs ever. I never find that I have had time to think everything that I wish to think out to it's completion. Never enough because it's never compete. And does it matter that those journal pages are full? And does it matter that my littles are free to discover and be safe? And does it matter that righteous me has...

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