Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Where to begin the explaining

It started with me combing his hair. Ignoring protests, I place He-Beat in front of me so I can untangle some strands. It's in that moment that he begins to whimper, crying out "No!" before turning to kick, pinch and punch.

"Do you need to find your calm space?" I ask.

At which point he completely melts, tears streaming down his face.

Giving him a minute to calm down, I kneel so that I'm eye-to-eye with him and tell him that he's loved. As he collapses into my arms, She-Beat comes over to offer him a hug. In an instant Grey is there too. Wrapped in a group hug, I can feel the shudders dissipate.

"We are family," Grey tells them. "We will make it be okay."

One of the hardest things about this past week is figuring out how to explain all that has happened to the Beats. To children in general. There's been the old advice to leave adult matters to the adults, sheltering them as best we can from all of this. But having grown up in an era where this was the norm, I know this tends to have the opposite effect as children are much more aware then most people give them credit for. 

So the question becomes what exactly to tell them. How to explain what is happening in a world we don't fully understand ourselves. And that is where I'm at a loss.

The truth is, I'm terrified of what is to come. I struggle to fully understand how we found ourselves in the situation at hand. All the news coming in at the moment continues to leave me reeling and as much as I want it, the added salt in the wounds has inhibited any healing from happening. There's the additional factor that emotions are still extremely high with a lot of infighting. Combine this with acts of violence and we've got quite a storm.

The past few days I've begun hunting for some sage advice about all of this. Trying to find something that I can use as a foundation for starting these conversations. A recent post by Shreve Stockton has helped. Particularly an email she shares from a friend.
"Several weeks ago my partner said she saw Trump as a heyoka (Lakota clown who mirrors the dark side). The heyoka’s role is to illuminate the shadow and ultimately help the people. In my prayer this morning, in despair at the election, I got back immediately that you do not engage the heyoka. You stay seated on the ground and you do not give into the fear that the heyoka creates. Stay in your prayer. Stay out of speculation. These just feed that kind of energy.  
I got very strongly that the best medicine for us as a people is to keep our homes peaceful and calm, to engage in our community, to do all the small things that make up a good life, to remain kind and thoughtful, to stay in our prayer. We are part of the nurturing, and we have no idea how many of our small acts are helping other people, who go on to do other small acts. Strong community, strong neighborhood, strong households."
On the heels of this was a post from Lisa about her email to her daughter.
"My job is to set an example for you and teach you to be a good person.  I will stand up for you, your dad, and others whenever I can.  I'm not entirely sure what that looks like right now, but I hope that by the time you are reading this you can tell me I'm doing a good job.  I'm not going to lie, I'm scared.  I'm an introvert and I hate confrontation.  It makes for an interesting combo. "
Grey also reminded me last night that we've already been doing this. For almost 10 years, I haven't felt safe in my own home. Cyrol has been a big factor with this, but so has living in a neighborhood with active prostitution and crime (our parking spot was a favorite for the girls to take their clients, evident each evening by the used condoms). And there's the fact that we also lived next door to a man who was convicted of raping his 16 year old daughter. Until this past year, I could not answer "yes" to the question "do you feel safe in your own home" that my health care providers routinely ask.

Given all of this, I'm slowly starting to piece together that all of this is going to require baby steps. That there are going to be days that I fuck up royal if not flat out fail. And yet, not trying is not an option. Too much is on the line. The Beats need me to be a model and to create something of a foundation so that they too can do the work that is required of them.

Still, there are many moments I wish we didn't have to do this. That I could instead go back to assuming that the majority of the world isn't as scary as the bubble I believed I solely lived in.


  1. I love that quote about the heyoka, the whole idea of it as our own shadow. I do think that the key is to cultivate peace within -- and then we can radiate waves of peace outwardly.

    I haven't yet figured out how to reconcile that with the hate and intimidation I know exist. Do I give it attention? Or not? What approach brings peace?


  2. Yes....this....I am struggling so much with all that has happened and my personal stress isn't making it any easier. I love reading what everyone is writing because we're all pretty much on the same page. Let's do our best to be our best and protect our children while allowing them to learn all at the same time. HUGS lady. And thank you....

  3. Children definitely pick up on emotions so I think you are wise to focus on being calm and centred. I think it's also ok to admit you don't have all the answers and are figuring things out (but always with the reminder that you will be there for them). Kids are smart and they are going to figure out you don't have all the answers and can't fix everything, probably sooner than you think, so might as well be honest about it. I don't think sheltering is as important as stability. Your neighbourhood might not be the greatest, but you always have it in your power to make your home a safe place. Sounds like you are doing a good job of that.

  4. Yes to all of this. My kids are obviously older, so we share a lot more. And even when they were that young, we were politically active because our family had to be. And maybe that is it -- the people who say shield the kids tend to be white, straight, Christian Americans who have been lucky so far not to deal with discrimination. And, yes, their kids -- it follows -- tend to not have to deal with discrimination, so it makes sense to shield them. But there is a large chunk of Americans who are not so lucky, and our kids know discrimination from the get-go. So there's no shielding them from reality. It is so stressful right now, and I think you're right that it's going to take baby steps to get out of it.

  5. Oh, so hard. I have a hard time explaining it all to myself, let alone young children who are absorbing an environment increasingly filled with hate and fear and disturbing news. I love that comparison to the heyoka. That sounds about right. I keep hoping that things won't be as bad as I fear, but every day brings more things that go with my fears, so that's hard to keep up. I'm trying so hard to be kind, to fight hate with love, and it's possible but hard when there are so many people who are so quick to call you an idiot or worse for challenging notions that aren't true, for responding to things without watching them or really paying attention to anything but the tweets of the president elect. Argh. I'm sorry you don't feel safe and it's a multilayered thing. I hope for peace for you, and more kindness, and Beats who will grow up knowing that there are nasty things in the world but that you can fight those nasty things and rise above the people who perpetrate them. Hopefully. I think you'll find that balance that's just right.


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