I had a great time again this year at the fundraiser for Bayview Community Services. Every time I attend an event like this and get to meet lots of kids I am reminded of how important it is to give them lots of opportunities to meet new “faces”.
A very serious three year old took one look at me and decided there was something seriously wrong with me and she was most definately NOT going to get her face painted but after a bit of hide and seek, she brought her father to me to have his face painted! Later she brought her mother! She even tried to find Rio the Clown to say good-bye after I had changed back into my regular clothes and removed my make-up. Nothing was going to convince her that this boring woman was Rio the Clown!
The important thing was that she had fun. She also got to enjoy the transformation face painting can achieve, if only for her parents! I think that helping overcoming the fear of the new can be a bit of what clowns can do! I try to follow the “First Contact” approach because for some kids, I’m the first clown they have met.
I’ve been reading: “Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart, A Buddhist Perspective on Wholeness” Epstein, M.D. and he tells a wonderful story about a time when his young son suddenly became very clingy and upset every time they had to leave him. Previously he had no problems with separation. They tried treats and cajoling and nothing seemed to work.
Indirectly, through play they learned that he was aware that his grandmother had cancer and though very young, he knew that people died of cancer without having the words for it. It was so indirect that when he said “daddy makes dinner” and he was asked where mommy was he answered, “she died of cancer.” Obviously the fact that people die was something he was trying to process on his own. This was when Mr. Epstein wisely said, “You know, some people die of cancer but some people get better. Grandma is getting better.”
The fear of separation disappeared immediately. The acknowledgement that some people die was as important as some people get better. The fear had a name and a context. It became something that could be expressed and something that he could express with his parents.
While acknowledging emotion and circumstances we are releasing them for ourselves and our children; secondly we are better at coping with the impact of difficulties in our lives and so are they. Once this is done it is important to get back to living.
I won’t pretend to have handled these things very well all the time but I do remember the times when through luck and maybe a bit of understanding I was able to recognize what was going on and address their concerns and how wonderfully healing it proved to be. While on a train, having said a difficult goodbye they were gripped by fits of tears. There I was with three bawling kids and I was falling apart too. I had recently started seeing a Buddhist monk who was giving me a lot help with the tidal wave of emotions that difficult time in our lives had brought with it. This little gem was so important: “You won’t feel like this forever.”
While we might think impermanence is something to fear, it is a part of life and at times it can be what we can recognize as a beautiful and generous, like laughter after tears, or the glistening raindrops held briefly on the petals of a flower after a storm.
There were threats of nasty things being done if people didn’t learn to use commas properly on a certain internet blog. The objects of these nasty things were going to be real live puppies! Terrible!
Now, some of us enjoy commas while admitting to not being sure about the proper use of them, but for the sake of pure fun have smattered commas about liberally in all our writing. It never hurt any one.
Puppies never hurt any one either. The fact is, this particular Doctor of English went too far! She is beating a dead language. She should leave little dogs alone!
Later in another entry she decried the use of “chased” in the place of “chaste” which are two very different things but which are related, when you think about it, because the boys chased the chaste girls and then when they were caught the chaste and chased were soon unchaste… well I don’t want to get all Shakespearean, what matters to me is that puppies should not be threatened as a way of inspiring proper punctuation.
I am sure dear reader that you join me in my relief when I tell you that the above mentioned Doctor of English sent me an apology and a nice picture of a puppy.
Puppies don’t know how bad things are!