Thursday, February 28, 2008

Healing is a two-way gift

"I read your blog, and you surely have a lot going on with Scott. I'm sorry it has taken this turn, but I was thinking last night in bed that things like this make life much simpler. It's kind of like breastfeeding. My child needs me. Everything else stops. Everything else falls away. My child needs me. It's like a call that rises above all the other swirling voices in your head. There is nothing to do but answer it. A zen-like, now moment. My child needs me." (My friend Kristin)

"Spirit has a way of setting up conditions that must be responded to..." ? (A quote from Sharon, my mentor and therapist--but I can't remember the rest of it. I suppose it had to do with--what, a new phase of growth, perhaps?)

I think that one of the aims of therapy is to reclaim my disowned and True Self. This involves healing the rift torn when I had to lie about what was true in order to placate the environment I was dependent upon.

Another goal is to catch on to the ways I've participated in the illusion that the world is an unsafe place, and begin to create safety, and beauty.

A corollary of that is to wake up to a world that holds magic, and miracles. A world that I can trust...that I can trust that miracles are being worked and the question is "how" will the miracle come...not if (I will get what I need/want).

When I found Billy's class I thought the miracle had indeed come--that I'd found a place where Scott's needs were met without seriously sacrificing mine. Happily ever after.

Then reality reveals that Scott's needs aren't perfectly wrapped up and disposed of. Over a period of several weeks it's clear that if he is going to thrive, then more of me is going to be required, even in the more nurturing environment of this school.

So then I question miracles and whether trust in them is an illusion, or worse, a delusion. Maybe it's just whistling in the dark. And what of the question that goes way beyond me and my little world? Where was a miracle for all those forced into the most horrific of circumstances in World War II? Millions of people are suffering excruciatingly right now, in this world. Where is their miracle? where was Suzy's miracle? Why do we live in a world where innocence and vulnerability suffer the cruelties of the worst of adults?

Perhaps, suggests Sharon, this situation where I must either respond to Scott's needs or turn a blind eye to them is a place where I either participate in the world being 'unsafe', or create safety. Perhaps it also represents an opportunity of movement beyond the place where I needed at least 7 hours a day to myself. Perhaps that's not what I need in order to do my work now. Perhaps some of this work on myself is now being worked out in being this Presence for Scott. I've needed seven hours a day to work on healing myself; the next phase of healing is to provide for Scott what was not available for me: a loving and intimate voice, navigating with him through the details of a classroom environment. I suppose this is the sort of Presence that we humans have needed and lacked: in our cells we have been very alone and tried to manage as best we could. Some of us better than others. We needed and deserved a loving parental voice, deep inside our very cells, to sustain us and teach us to sustain ourselves in times of stress. Most of us had parents who weren't in tune enough with their own deeper selves to be able to provide that support to us. Even loving parents. Of course, some parents were overtly cruel.

So in a way, providing this Voice for Scott is also providing It for me. In love filling this space inside him, I am filled too. So the reality is, he is also giving me a Gift.

This is a way I create Safety for Scott, and for myself also.

So it's very interesting to reflect back to the image of the dream I had when I returned to therapy with Sharon a little over a year ago. This was the dream where he'd fallen into a stream and was being swept toward the ocean. I was annoyed with him in the dream, before he fell in and I was further annoyed at the prospect that I might need to get wet when I didn't want to. In the dream I'm poised above, paralyzed by the choice of jumping in after him, or running along the top and meeting him where he washes out.

I see that I made my choice. Before I've realized it, I see I jumped in with him some time ago.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Cheating? or Reprieve?

For whatever reason I didn't tell Scott that I would be staying for a while each morning in the classroom. I don't know exactly what stayed my tongue; some sort of caution I guess. That and the general distraction that kept me from thinking through it, and the forgetfulness about bringing it up.

I was planning to talk to him about it on the drive over and got distracted by an interview with the chairman of the American Conservative Union about John McCain. WOW--they really think like that? Hearing the litany of what they distrust in McCain reveals much about them.

It wasn't until we were on the sidewalk heading in to the building that I started a little to talk to him, but didn't quite get there because he didn't seem to be taking it in. I started with telling him that there are times his behavior in the classroom isn't appropriate for the classroom because it disturbs the learning of other children; I told him that he needs to have someone with him in class to teach him when it's ok to be noisy and talk, and when it's time to control himself. I hadn't gotten to the part about my planning to stay that day. When we walked into the room one of the children greeted us with :"We're going swimming today!"


Well, we weren't the only ones without swimsuits, but I'll bet we live the furthest away. Fortunately they don't go until 12:30 so I had time to run back to the house and get it. I arrived at 9:05; it'll take 1/2 hour to get back, and I hadn't told Scott I was going to stay. So how diligent should I be about getting the suit and heading right back?

And, would it be best (for me) to take my reprieve right now and arrive with the suit shortly before they leave for the pool? That would buy me a couple hours now, but would put an interruption right in the middle. Or should I leave now with the suit, tell Billy that I'll start the classroom aide thing tomorrow and be back home around 10:30--therefore having a larger chunk of undisturbed time?

Geez, I jump through a lot of hoops for the sake of this time. I still haven't figured out how to get the inner sensation of the benefit of lots-of-time in the absence of lots of time.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A (fragile) quiet moment

It's Sunday, and timeis unstructured. This always leaves me with a feeling of unease: I'm troubled by thinking there are things I should be doing; that I'd planned on doing during the week, and now I can't remember. I prefer to be writing anyway.

One of the more difficult things that I still haven't adjusted to about parenting is the being interrupted. I tend to love forward momentum in a seamless whole--start at my choosing, not pause until I choose to finish. Having children has completely violated that need--and the problem is the need hasn't gone away, even though (unless they're in school) it's been rendered completely unrealistic.

So when we're all home much of what I choose to do has a provisional feel to it. I live with the threat of interruption at any random moment. So there's a part of me that's keeping alert for that inevitable call for direct intervention in something.

Here's how I strategize: if the boys are otherwise occupied, that's when I do something that can involve sitting still: writing, reading, researching (and expecting to be interrupted). If I'm in the middle of cooking, housework, whatever, I stop the second they become occupied and grab my book. When they are with me needing my engagement I do chores. I figure, why waste a quiet moment with chores? I'm always alert for these openings.

Still, they are like quick sips of air, not luxury. I just can't let down to do some serious thinking or writing. Luxury is when they're in school. So I'm a little sad every time I feel my familiar anticipation that tomorrow's a school day, and then remember that I'm going to be staying in the classroom for a couple hours. Since it's about a half hour commute to and from the school, the window I'm left with is pretty small (as I already whined about ad nauseum).

Writing this down a couple things come to mind: 'Geez, why'd she even have kids?' And a bit of shame at my 'strategy'--reserving my chores for when they're occupying themselves with me is hardly 'being here now' with them. And they deserve my full presence--

Uh oh. Tears and shouts. I'm being interrupted.

Friday, February 22, 2008

More consideration

I moaned about a miracle, about my miracle being undercut (the miracle of finding the school, and the boats). The fact is, though, that Scott’s needs are what they are. And they may require more than 2 hours a day of my presence in a classroom to keep him oriented. It may require more than me being there the entire day every day. But ‘miracle’ doesn’t mean that my child doesn’t have needs, or doesn’t have needs that inconvenience me. But in making the adjustment to meet his needs, I need to find a way to meet mine. What is it about big chunks of time that I need—is there some essence of it that doesn’t require big chunks of time to get? What need does big chunks of time satisfy, and what other avenues are there for giving the same sensation of satisfaction?

Perhaps the miracle is that I have the opportunity to meet his need in a way that means he won’t be burdened with reverberations—secondary damage--when he’s older. Perhaps the miracle is that this school, this classroom are available—that the best place to be supported while he grows through this is this school. And it’s free…we could not afford to pay for private school or tutoring. Perhaps the miracle is that I do have the resources (time) to devote to it.

It seems to resolve the question about my returning to my profession right now. I won’t be doing that for a while. It also resolves the question about leaving Gary right now, I think. Something pretty special would have to open up for leaving Gary to be possible under these circumstances.

It’s not very nice to question a miracle while it’s in process. Maybe realizing that can help me be a more receptive kindee.

Aw heck, life just shrunk again

More evidence that Finding My Soul's True Purpose isn't a Happily Ever After, or an exemption from some of the disappointments inherent in life.

Billy talked long and earnestly with me about Scott yesterday at pick up. The gist is that Scott isn't 'getting' the context of classroom. He doesn't share the same set of assumptions that most children are in harmony with by now in school. He doesn't 'speak school'. Billy recommends further evaluation, possibly an IEP specifically for attention issues, and further involvement of special education.

At the time we were talking it seemed that what was called for was to increase my presence in the classroom, since Scott has done fairly well on the two days I've volunteered. Now I wonder if I prematurely jumped to that conclusion, since I'd been harboring it as a fear: that one afternoon a week wasn't going to be sufficient. It's done, though: I've committed myself to staying for 2 hours every morning when I drop him off. I asked if maybe their special education person could just observe and evaluate for now and serve as a consult for me. I want to carefully consider if there is a downside to getting a 'learning disabled' label--if benefits outweigh drawbacks I'll go with the label.

I'm still harboring a hope that what's needed for Scott isn't so much 'services', but maybe guidance in crossing a threshold the other kids are doing more automatically: negotiating the transition to being a member of a learning community. He's not doing it on his own, and maybe he needs a more present and intimate guide to help bridge this gap. A classroom teacher just can't do this--or maybe could if there was a classroom size of 4-5 children.

So I'm going to try to be that Guide, and see if a more hands-on orienting presence might be a stop-gap while he is figuring out his own self-regulation. I can lend him my self-regulation while he's developing his.

Sigh. The personal cost to me is seems I've been ceding territory a bit at a time. Several weeks ago I wrote about the agony of choices where it seemed that something dear was going to need to be sacrificed. It's clear to me that it's not going to be Scott.

So how does this fit in to the miracle? The elegant solution that seemed like it had met all of the immediate needs without sacrificing any? Does this diminish it? I've gone from 7 hours a day (on the days they have school--it seems this school system has a day off every other week between the long vacations) of solitude (with the exception of volunteering several hours on Wed) to 5 and a half three times a week and 2 and a half on Fridays. NOW it's down to 3 hours 4 days a week, 2 and a half on Fridays. Is the 'miracle' that instead of having a major amputation all at once, I've instead gotten whittlings? A chance to get used to it between whacks?

The resource of time now needs to be rationed and divided up between competing interests: blogging, journaling, transcribing old journals, reading, and trying to keep current with the news. I've chosen blogging right now over showering. Now I'm back to feeling like I'm choosing among my various children (all of this said with awareness that a lot of women in the world would experience having these choices as luxury). This latest adjustment is deep enough to hurt.

One thing I do have in exchange for this time is less anxiety about Scott. Though it looks like he may indeed having learning issues, I think this is a learning environment that will actually help him, not compound his issues. It's also a classroom that I can stand to think of spending 8 hours (or more????) a week in--it would have been unbearable at the other school. This is a very different atmosphere; I don't feel on edge at Trillium.

Back to the perfect position to be a 'kindee'. Which, as I've complained before, is not a comfortable place to be.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Considering anxiety

One of the gifts of raising children is an opportunity to learn what we are trying to teach them. This morning on npr I heard part of a segment about children's play and how its character has changed, and potential consequences of this.

It seems that a basic common denominator of learning, the substrate, is an ability to self-regulate. I think of it as the ability to sustain oneself while waiting through uncertainty. In watching children interact in a variety of settings, and especially with each other I'm able to see when that ability is lacking. I get a sense inside that this ability is what is needed.

I looked up 'anxiety' on just before beginning this. Over my life I have visited this theme a number of times. suggests that it is anxiety that makes us uniquely human.

I'm wondering if we're born with it as a sort of life force; sort of a by-product of having a nervous system...(bwahahaha--guess my system is 'nervous'). The way I experience it is as a call to action--and a drive to know. I suppose to know if something is safe or not. Perhaps 'safety' is a commodity that appears at all levels of the psyche; perhaps we experience it on some levels as 'getting what we want.' I suppose that uncertainty at any level, from will-mommy-come-to-get-me-when-I'm-hungry, to not knowing how to categorize something, to not knowing what the future holds--at any level I think uncertainty spurs a 'potentially unsafe' alert. One way of relieving uncertainty is to have what you want. Now. NOW.

I suppose that just about anything can be threatened; our self-esteem, an idea, a world-view, our way of life, our lives.

One of the difficult things I've found about being around children is the demand to relieve uncertainty. NOW. I suppose part of it is because theirs resonates with mine. So I experience even a ghost of it, and it's uncomfortable, and that's if it doesn't provoke a full-blown case of it in me.

Remembering this scenario: Playdate. Preschool children, parents. A toy that has been lying off to the side undisturbed for the duration suddenly catches one child's interest. Like an electrical pulse suddenly the other children become magnetized to it too. Some child gets to it first. Perhaps as the mother of the first child that headed toward it (and got there too late) part of me inside is suddenly on alert--feeling the pinpricks of my child's heartbreak at being denied tugging on me. Other parents' anxiety levels rising too: will there be a fight? Will my child have a chance to play with it before it's time to leave? Will my child be forced to surrender it prematurely?

Through some transmutation, this toy that has been completely neutral now becomes a heart's desire. Furthermore, the awareness that this is an object of desire for other children suddenly makes it that much more precious to the child holding it. (In my heart while feeling anxiety for my child, I'm also aware that it is a fatal mistake to indicate interest in the object. I can see that my child, and other children, lack the ability to sustain themselves through the pain of uncertainty: "will I get it? Will I be able to have it as long as I want?" Therefore they are helpless before their impulse to ask, plead, demand--thereby putting off the moment when they can get it. Which may make them even more frantic.) I can see that they merely add fuel to the fire of the possessor's desire to hang on; if they could wait a bit the possessor most likely will lose interest in the object and turn to another toy. I also see that the child who can tolerate the uncertainty seems to fare the best emotionally in that case.

It's interesting to watch a roomful of unbridled acquisitiveness. It's more interesting to watch how parents manage their own ambitions for their children (including me). How high do we jump when anxiety pricks? I find myself surreptitiously watching the she about to put it down and if she does will my son be in position to get it? Feeling the impulse to steer him in that direction, then embarrassed that I'm strategizing getting a few moments of play with a coveted object for my son. Realizing the moment is past anyway. He no longer wants it.

And I'm also realizing the ability to sustain myself while waiting calmly inside is a skill that would behoove me to get better at.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Revisiting "The Road", or Who IS That Guy?

Earlier in this blog I described one aspect of my experience of a book called "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy. It's the story of a man shielding, protecting, and nurturing his son in the aftermath of some sort of holocaust, probably nuclear. What was raising its hand back in November when I read it was the conundrum of choosing/not-choosing. Choice as a dilemma became alive for me.

Sharon illuminated a larger field by suggesting that there is a new Self, mine, being born into the world. There's a part of me that is debating whether or not to kill It now, to prevent Its suffering in the world. A world, by the way, I see as bleak, perverse, malicious. She proposed the question I've been asking myself since, "Is the world a safe place, or is it a hostile place?"

Reflecting back on the 'stages' referred to on the northwest therapy project website, the notion of birth is compelling. The whole idea of being birthed from the old and familiar and into the new applies to the various stages.

And who are these Guardians at the Thresholds?

And why, lately, am I so acutely aware of the suffering in the world? The prospect of suffering physically at the hands of others horrifies me. The thought of people just living their lives and then events and circumstances overtaking them so they're forced to make horrible choices: between suffering themselves, or allowing someone else to suffer in their stead--that makes me shudder. I feel acutely aware that the stability that we enjoy in the United States may be more fragile than we think--our well-being dependent on the availability of cheap oil and power, abundant resources.

I've been haunted, in my dreams and fears, by a Shadow, a man. I encountered him directly, a year ago. It was precipitated by a realization of the lack of love between my husband and me. I had an experience of total desolation. It was the experience of an abandoned child, alone and at the mercy of a malignancy. Years ago a man kidnapped and killed three children in two separate incidences. The first 2 were brothers. He described in detail what he did in his diary, and he took pictures.

There was a time when I would have liked to 'do' 'weird': things like astral-projection, visions, out-of-body experiences. Time convinced me that I'm not mystical material and that I cannot suspend my disbelief. So it was extremely unusual for me to have an experience like that--it shook me to the core. Alone in my house I experienced myself as one of those children, crying and begging for my life and longing so much for my parents and not understanding why they weren't there. And I also became the parent of one of those children. For me the horror rested in knowing how terrible-alone my child would have felt. And the question would be, knowing that such a record exists in the world, of the death of my child ...I would need to see it, and perhaps in some retroactive way, be there for my child. That somehow it would be wrong to turn away from my child's suffering. But could I... writing this I'm crying and feeling a ghost of the experience a year ago where I cried like my heart was breaking and touched this alone place in my Soul.

Who is this Shadow? Is he a Guardian? Is he a personification of the mercilessness, sadistic, violence that human beings have shown over and over again that they're capable of? I don't think he's a Guardian--Guardians may be fearsome but I don't think they're profane.

Perhaps this all represents a debate inside that's been raging for a year--or longer. Is it best to stay 'unborn' where it's 'safe', or to be birthed into a world that appears to be...bleak, perverse, sinister?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Needing Orientation

Sometimes there's just a need to pull back perspective a bit, and try to get an idea where you are in the larger scheme of things. I was feeling this need in regard to the therapy I'm doing. Its formal name is Archetypal Pattern Analysis.

So I googled it and came up with a site for therapies available in the Pacific Northwest: It's a pretty nice summary of what's available out there; uses a case study of one person's shyness to exemplify the approach of each type of therapies.

Here is the summary I found:

Archetypal Pattern Analysis:

All who want to reclaim their true identity and find their soul's purpose must undertake a deep journey.
There are specific archetypal stages in this transformational journey. These stages are not linear. They can be fluid, overlapping and sometimes fold back on themselves. The step between each stage is a choice to remain where one is comfortable or to open to an new, larger complexity in life.

The Ten Stages of the Journey of Archetypal Pattern Analysis.

  • Hearing the Call To Transformation The individual is embedded in an ordinary world which is usually static but unstable and is called into a ‘special world’. The call itself establishes the goal of the special world.

  • Wrestling With the Call and Accepting or Refusing The journeyer grapples with the call and their own openness to change. There are individuals who jump at the call and there are those who are more reluctant and sense the Guardians of The Threshold.

  • Crossing The First Threshold This is a commitment to go forward and enter the special world. One agrees to really face the problem inherent in your specific call. This stage includes a decision that the truth of your own being is more important than aligning with your ego's idea of life. This inspires a stronger, deeper commitment to the journey.

  • Allowing Oneself to be Mentored The energy of the mentor’s wisdom is called forth from crossing the first threshold. It becomes a patterning force that carries one through the journey. This unfolds into a deep vulnerability and allowing oneself to be known.

  • Facing Tests, Obstacles, Allies and Enemies, Both Inner And Outer There is an encountering of new challenges, tests and learning the rules of the special world. You encounter the limitations of your own persona and shadow and cultural and family imprinting.

  • Surrender and Commitment There is a deepening into a commitment to going forward, realizing you cannot go back.

  • Wrestling Here a series of obstacles and challenges surface, and the individual is asked to face deep fears and defenses. It is an experience of finding your way through the eye of the needle. This is done to strengthen the individual in preparation for the final ordeal ahead.

  • Surrender & Receiving Gifts A new level of commitment to the journey is attained as the Journeyer is poised on the crest of facing the great challenge of the final ordeal. This Stage includes commitment to the Self in the face of de-embedding from one’s old system. Gifts are given to be able to continue the journey, such as insight into limitations, complexes, and blocks to an open system. There is also optimism, excitement and magic as one experiences Archetypal Pattern Analysis succeeding and the awe of the psyche’s power, knowledge and guidance.

  • Final Ordeal Contacting the Self releases large obstructing forces. Deep patterns surface, followed by claustrophobic fears and attempts to evacuate anxiety. The birthing process of the final ordeal comes in many forms, such as facing death, a personal sacrifice, horrendous villains, a crisis of the heart, individuation, finding one’s authority and facing one’s greatest fears.

  • Returning with the Gift and Sharing The transformed individual integrates the experience of the final ordeal and the mentoring force and is now able to gift their community with this integration.
    Their life is now navigated by their soul's purpose.

OK. That was very helpful.

Friday, February 15, 2008

My cousin...(you know who you are)... whom I owe the impetus to launch this blog 'tagged' me, last week, or maybe even longer ago. I am still so innocent about the workings of blogs and blogger society that I'm not sure what to do.

First, have I committed a faux pas by having not 'played' yet; that is listed a number of quirks about myself and then tagged a number of other bloggers (see, I can't even do *that* right. Duh, I forgot...). Should I have said something to her on her blog, offered an explanation? But where? In reply to her latest posting, in which case it probably wouldn't have anything to do with the content of that post? Back on the one where she tagged me, but that one's so old by now she's probably no longer checking it for replies. E-mail her privately? I'm probably thinking wa-a-ay too much.

I wanted to explain my 'problem', which is that I don't have too many blogs I visit on a frequent if not regular basis. One of them is my cousin's ( (I recommend it, by the way). She tagged me; I guess I can't really turn around and tag her back. Of two others I visit, oh make it 3, these are people who know me in the real world. Not intimately, but enough to make me feel a little uncomfortable about what they might be reading.

So, I can go fishing. And I did do some of this. One is a blog an e-pal of mine linked me to: a British ex-pat with 2 autistic sons and a grown daughter. She recommended a number of other blogs to go to, which I did. In fact, I'd like to go to more of them but I keep getting interrupted. I see there's a dance in the blogging world: I post, but I also visit and read. So I see that there's a commitment. (by the way, I will recommend this woman's blog, but I think I'll ask her first.)

Though I've been reassured that it's ok to tag someone (by way of self-introduction), I can't get past this feeling that I need to 'get to know them' a little more first.

The cool thing is that I sense this is leading me down a fruitful avenue. Something about visiting these other blogs heightens my feelings of getting 'warmer' in terms of deepening my own writing. So, thanks, Cuz, for opening a way. And, how about you tag me a little farther ahead in the future? I'd like to play, I just need a little more time to get ready.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Learning plan

For some reason I keep wanting to write "lesson" plan, which really is very different from "learning plan".

The worst I feared happening was receiving confirmation from Billy that Scott was not bringing with him to the classroom the most basic-of-basic foundation of readiness to learn. And if that was true, then what? I suppose the implications I dreaded consist of these strands:

1) the possibility that school really HAD done more damage then good, and it was going to take an exhausting effort to undo--and that's my fault too because if I'd have volunteered in the classroom last year I'd have seen sooner that this was wrong for him and I'd have acted sooner 2) the specter raised again of homeschooling 3) more evidence that Something's Wrong--is it our marriage that's having such an adverse effect, and how can I convince Gary of that: or is there something beyond immaturity in Scott? 4) prospect of having made a Big Mistake in moving him from his other school (especially since he'd been crying and saying he wanted to go to the other school) 5) prospect of having been deceived by my powerful sense that the other school wasn't meeting his needs, and my strongly positive feeling about Trillium: CAN I trust that the Universe is 'conspiring' to help me to meet everyone's needs? Or is all the work I've been doing with Sharon bullshit? 6) the prospect that the way I've been raising him is totally misguided and I'm shielding myself from responsibility by blaming the school; that I'm 'in denial'.

While waiting for Friday and the meeting I was cowering, bracing myself to hear the worst. I was in tears within the first 5 minutes.

And I suppose I should have taken a clue from the fact that this meeting was intended to include Scott, and to set up a learning plan. An Individual Learning Plan, which each child in the classroom has. It's a plan for each quarter of the school year, goals that the child hopes to reach, a listing of interests, passions. The thrust of the conversation wasn't that Scott didn't belong in the classroom; it was how best to match his learning plan with his style of learning. I'm not sure how much of a true participant Scott was, because I think it was too abstract for him, but he did say that he'd like to build an eyeball (like the model in the optometrist's office). He also is fascinated with the lofts in the classroom and wants to build one. So, those are his goals.

Billy noted that Scott seems to need to engage objects tactilely and that this is part of his learning style. A friend (you know who you are! ;D ) pointed out to me that tactile learning is a distinct and recognized style of learning. At her suggestion I googled 'tactile learning' and found a list of traits that describe Scott very accurately. I see that he was a tactile-learning child with a teacher who teaches to a visual and auditory learning style. I could see that the behaviors that produced reprimands in such a classroom (and an overall tone of disapproval) are part of the very foundation of who he is. Since the standard of behavior for Billy's classroom is friendly for children who aren't auditory/visual learners, hopefully he'll be able to reverse the bad start he got since being himself is not something that will be frowned on here.

But, he cried again this morning when I left him. He said he preferred getting on the bus, because that wasn't sad for him. But it is sad for him that we separate in the classroom. We've got to find a way to work around that.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


The other 'project' I'd signed onto was to investigate "Gorelick's Wall". If I'm understanding correctly, the memorandum that's been given that name had the purpose of raising a standard for information sharing within the FBI--not between the FBI and the CIA. The FBI has an intelligence-gathering branch, as well as its criminal investigatory branch. To successfully prosecute a criminal case, the procedures have to be carefully followed. Any appearance that evidence in a criminal case had been influenced by information from the intelligence-gathering branch could result in a case's dismissal. Thus the raising of the standard to prevent the appearance of misconduct.

I was listening to an interview with Phillip Shenon, a reporter who covered the 9-11 Commission investigating the terror attacks. After the Commission concluded he continued to follow them and did further research that resulted in a book: "The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation. He said that John Ashcroft, then attorney general of the United States was expecting to be questioned rather harshly by the commission and so declassified Gorelick's memo. His purpose was to claim that her policy had so hampered communication between the law enforcement agencies they could not function effectively--to deflect any question of inaction or indifference on his part. He also cast doubt on Gorelick's membership on the commission, whether or not she had a conflict of interest.

The entire bipartison Commission, according to Shenon unanimously stood behind Gorelick.

I feel fairly satisfied that the issue of Gorelick's Wall is smoke and mirrors.

I haven't forgotten about my project

The one I signed onto publicly, in this blog. To challenge my basic stance in this world.

I've spent quite a bit of the last year musing about the nature of authority, and authoritarians. Authoritarians aren't necessarily those who wield power; some are submissive and loyal to it.

Authoritarians stake a claim on 'Rightness'--that they represent and are champions of 'the Right Way'. This "right way" is the ability to adhere to a certain code and tradition that is imposed from the outside. To the extent that one is unable to conform, one is Wrong. Will power is the strength to maintain conformity to the Right Way and is considered a measure of one's moral character.

I dutifully did my best to conform. And to all appearances I was doing a pretty good job of it. I was compliant, obedient. I was a born again Christian. But slowly over the years grew in me a novel idea (for me): a notion that Authority instead of being imposed from without could organically grow from within. That the notion of authority-imposed could be replaced with a kind of responsive awareness. For years I assumed that was the 'devil' attempting to lure me away from the Right Way and I redoubled my efforts to be loyal to the Code.

Nationalism is a key feature of the Code. A sort of aggressive nationalism which assumes that we Americans somehow carry a legitimacy as a people that others don't possess and thus we can exempt ourselves from standards we hold other peoples to; that we have a 'mission' that is God-given and increases our legitimacy. We are told to 'love' our country. To question the practices of the powerful in this country resembles disloyalty and therefore is considered disloyal.

Podhoretz's book (World War IV/The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism) is grounded firmly in this kind of nationalism. It has an internal logic that's convincing from it's own internal viewpoint.

To attempt to balance this somewhat, or at least place nationalism in a larger context I'm also reading "America Right or Wrong/An Anatomy of American Nationalism" by Anatol Lieven. He points out that nearly every nation has seen itself as somehow exceptional, and as having a mission. National identity was a characteristic of old-world imperial Europe and particularly of conservative elements of those socieities. He posits that having endured the destruction and devastation of WWII many of these older countries have tempered their nationalism somewhat, having experienced first-hand the end result.

So the project proceeds, but slowly. I interrupt it periodically with the books I'm reading for my book reading group. February's is "Any Human Heart" by William Boyd.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

In the interest of full disclosure...

In the interest of authenticity and truthfulness I suppose I should share my lows as well as my highs. The last post reflected a perfect storm of 'gifts'--the confirmation that facing facts and waiting in (for me, shaky) trust yields results that transcend what seem to be inevitable. I was an amazed "kindee" (I suppose, doing my 'job' as a kindee: responding with joy, gratitude, wonder at an unexpected and undeserved gift). A lovely experience. Might as well end the blog right there: living happily ever after.

Well, back to the other job of the kindee-- to be vulnerable and helpless, waiting (and I hate waiting) in (shaky) trust. Yeah, my trust is riddled with holes, but I AM new at this.

Scott had his first week of 1st grade at the new school last week. Reports from Billy on 'how he did' were uneven but largely positive. However, he's just instituted a 'responsibility chart' that identifies 4 levels of responsibility and commensurate privileges. Yesterday when I arrived for pick-up he was talking with the students about assigning them seats. Scott transfers in and within a couple of days these behavioral curbs are put into place...halfway through the school year and now there's a need? Coincidence? I'll ask on Friday. At pickup yesterday when I asked how Scott had done Billy hesitated before answering. I noted that Scott had moved up a level on the responsibility chart which Billy acknowledged but I got the impression that achieving that level did not necessarily mean a smooth upward glide. He said something about "he's not where I want him to be yet" or something like that. On the drive home Scott says he had a good day.

Instantly my waiting-for-the-other-show-to-drop persona asserts itself and I'm fearing the worst (spitting in the eye of god?). I sent an e-mail to Billy asking the nature of Scott not being-where-Billy-wants-him-to-be. I shared my fear that maybe his educational experience was off to a bad start by virtue of having really been unready for a classroom setting. Perhaps he'd had insufficient skills in self-regulation and expecting him to learn in a room full of distractions is akin to expecting a baby to walk before the development of bones and muscle are complete. Perhaps deformity has resulted...?

Billy responded with an e-mail suggesting we have a conference, with Scott, on Friday after school. I've agreed, and I'm apprehensive.

My biggest fear is that Scott won't succeed, I guess. Success defined as developing a love of learning, and a classroom experience that gives him pride in his growing abilities. Behavior that reflects this--I'm inclined to agree with Dr. Sears in his belief that a child who 'feels right acts right'. I fear the unknown: if this isn't a good situation for him, then what. I suppose I take him out and homeschool him. On the theory that not only does he need more time to mature before he can be expected to single out and attend to a single voice in a distracting atmosphere, but there needs to be some time to wipe the slate clean for a fresh start. A chance to rest those undeveloped muscles and bones that he's been forced to walk on prematurely. Undo some damage.

BUT, what if maturity *isn't* at the heart of the reason he's not thriving in school? THEN what? This is a potentially prolonged period of stepping out in faith and already I'm hearing some mutterings from the gallery. We've all heard stories of people who persisted in the truth, even when everyone else was swimming against them. Sometimes it took years for the truth to become apparent to everyone, bringing vindication to the people who'd had only themselves to sustain them. I'm not sure I have the fire in my belly it would take to last over a long haul.

I read back over Kevin Kelly's essay for some inspiration. I can see that I am definitely in the kindee stance: needy, helpless, afraid. The Gift isn't a one-time event and then 'happily ever after'. It's not about never feeling needy, helpless and afraid again.

"How will the miracle happen today?"