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1/20/10

The soul of the child

Sometimes I feel like all I do is think, wonder, dream, write, and work to change the health care system at the level of the individual. But, in reality, that's just my hobby.  My real job is Mom and home is where I do all of my primary research on healthy living for individuals. Call me a "techno-domestic sensualist." Which is why, for this post, I'd like to celebrate the soul of the child. 

I look at the soul of my child as an aspect of my own soul, and use this framework for keeping in touch with my child's inner life without being overbearing. 

I recently experienced being interconnected with my son when he had a tough year in school (last year). It wasn't tough in a traditional way; there were no bad grades, no attention issues, bullying or behavior problems dogging him. His grades were excellent, his teachers liked him, and his behavior was just fine. The trouble was, his heart and soul weren't present.  He wasn't engaged in what he was doing in the least. He was drifting. He was sad. He didn't want to go to school.

This is the kind of disconnect that makes a mother crazy. I mean, when your kid needs help, I for one prefer to have a clear failure to point to, not a murky, uneasy, sinking feeling that something unnamed is amiss when we go to the school admin and ask for help. And yet, the soul of my child (which is how I framed the problem we had) was whispering in a quiet voice and moving to its own rhythm.  You can imagine the challenge I had bringing this to the table in a traditional school environment. 

I spent roughly 4 months advocating for our son at our neighborhood public school. The work included: initiating mediation with our Principal, lots of bedtime conversations, staying in constant contact with the school and asking for specific changes to his school day. It took dozens and dozens of hours from work, and was truly uncomfortable to become such a squeaky wheel. But what was the other choice? If not a parent, then who will advocate for the soul of the child?

As I stepped through this process, I was mindful of just how fortunate we are to know how to work the channels. There are millions of mothers and fathers who don't know how, or are too strapped for time, vision, confidence, or money to take even the first steps outbound to the school on behalf of their child.  

I am going to skip some detail about how things resolved. Suffice it to say that he recovered by the end of the year, but that we have also moved him to an independent school where he is thriving.  

Here's the point: Pay attention to the soul of your child. Trust your instincts. When you feel burnt out and as if you just cannot do another thing about the situation, take a rest and count it as a blessing that you possess the tools to be a powerful advocate. Your child's soul is watching, and learning how to do the same for itself someday.

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1 comment:

  1. Your post is very moving. I appreciate how hard it is to be a squeaky wheel: it's not a role that fits me well, either, but my son, now 18, has some complex wiring issues ('learning' is too narrow a definition) and it's been my work since he was six to learn about that, get him good help and try to advocate for him in school and all his activities. Our best move: sending him to a fairly radical, alternative school, where kids really are allowed to be who they are. Schools have the power to suffocate kids' souls --- or nourish them. Just like parents.

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