Monday, May 05, 2008

43 Months

(Lucas & Daddyo rock climbing in Anza Borrego)

There are many types of cries that you come to discover as a parent. When children are very little (like Quinn now) , they generally have only one way that they cry, which can change tempo and volume depending on how irritated they become. Eventually they learn that this is the best way to get you to respond to their needs, even when those needs turn into simple desires. Training children to make requests using a certain amount of politeness and respect is an important aspect of their journey from babyhood to childhood...then hopefully to adolescence and adulthood as well. The ultimate goal of all parents is to help make this transition as smooth as possible so that these little people will one day become gracious and dynamic human beings. It's a difficult process and sometimes we parents do not succeed (so many babies over the age of twenty in the world).

Lucas is having some difficulty making that transition in his third year. He's actually perfecting the act of crying...or at least he's putting on a performance. His new favorite phrase starts with the words "I can't". He's learning the fine art of resistance even though he's still not quite old enough to read Sun Tzu. I think that he's beginning to love the sound of whine at the back of his throat. And when we try to get him to do a task that we already know that he's perfectly capable of accomplishing, he flops down on the ground and actually cries.

I'm wondering if this is an instinctual response that he's harbored within him since his larval stage and I am also becoming keenly aware of what is a genuine cry and what is nothing more than a mockery of pain. Now, I've never been the type of person who expresses visible compassion for a person when their difficult emotions break the surface. I have trouble finding the words that may help simply due to the fact that I truly believe that each of us deal with adversity in our own unique way. It's strange to try and understand what someone is going through at that painful moment, to project your experience on their lives. I just don't get that. Ultimately, all I ever want in that situation is to be hugged, words never ever suffice. But as a parent, your children need you more than anything because they are so emotionally undeveloped, everything is brand new and they need your guidance through the dark.

Since I have a hard time comforting people when they actually need it, my initial reaction to those who aren't really suffering but acting like they are, almost always is a certain level of disdain. I know that this type of reaction toward my child will never create value within our relationship, that's something that I've struggled to deal with regarding my own father for my entire life (Oh no, I'm like my old man!) but I also don't want to indulge his penchant for creating drama. It's freaking hard to find the balance and even though I think of myself as an mild mannered fellow, my little boy is challenging that myth on a continuous basis.

But this new awareness is also helping me understand the truth about compassion. There are many ways that we comfort each other as a human beings. Some situations require a strict stance while others demand a strong voice of righteousness. Some people need comforting and others need a good kick in the rear in order to overcome their own inadequacies. Ultimately, we are not the vehicle for their deliverance, only they can do it for themselves. Our actions can provide a jump-start for their lives at the most.

Since I have this blossoming relationship that has developed from the moment of birth, I am discovering the path of compassion within my own heart and how to use it. It's beautiful to look at people with these new eyes and I am awakening to certain truths in my life, not for the first time but simply with a different perspective. The most important of these truths is that I love my family. I love the life that we've built and there are incredible moments of utter appreciation that descend upon me at random. I feel this energy of love coursing through me like bloodflow and I realize that it's an infinite aspect of my soul. In that moment I notice the strength of it, so enormous that it feels bigger than the universe. So big that sometimes it makes me cry...for real.

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