Child, give me your hand
That I may walk in the light
Of your faith in me.
Being present with children means living with the tension of divergent experiences simultaneously: exhilaration and exhaustion, give and receive, accept and inspire, extend and envelop, secrets and outside voices, good enough and more than expected, tears of sorrow and tears of joy. And yet, despite the abounding paradox, through the center of each experience runs the consistent thread of connection. Amidst the strongest emotions, children are silently imploring, Do you love me now? What if I do this? Or this? Will you still love me? In my moments of fierce strength, are we still connected?
Children who are connected are safe to grow and explore, to try on different pieces of themselves to see which ones work. In that process, they plunge their most true selves towards us, desperate for connection that tethers their experience. Sometimes they parade wearing confidence, compassion, intuition, or creativity. Sometimes, they embody certainty, giddiness, orneriness, or anger. Still other times, their countenance is whiny, mean, petty, or rude. In these moments, when they are experiencing what it is like to be a deeply feeling human being, they depend on a constant connection in order to remain fully authentic.
The answer? In this particular case? Six. Although to be fair, we had no more box-ready kids – as we didn’t think it fair to shove Desmond in against his will – so the answer is quite possibly higher! I do the majority of our household shopping online, and if I wait long enough and place a large enough order, all of our toilet paper, paper towels, diapers, wipes, and laundry soap arrives in giant boxes this size. We had two waiting with household goods on our front porch on Friday that made perfect places to play today!
Looking at the world through sequins.
Frequently throughout the day, encounters occur that I wish I could capture in their fullness – the spirits of the children involved, the intensity of the negotiations, or the passion behind the artistic expressions. Suffice it to say that young children are deeply feeling beings, and they have no social stigma about announcing to the world in all their passion exactly how it is that they are feeling. Pure joy or raw creativity – it is all wrapped up in such a small body, looking for expression. Occasionally, I am able to capture some of the emotion through pictures. Here are some of the shots from the last week or two.
Spend anytime around here, and you will discover that we are thoroughly process people. Parents of the Abundant Life children are accustomed to picking up their children — proudly displaying their creations: envelopes full of tiny pieces cut confidently with scissors, a repurposed snack cracker box swimming in glue, or invisible paper holding layers of caked and cracking tempera paints. Sometimes the work stays here, elegantly displayed to be revisited and admired in subsequent days and weeks. Often it travels home, messages of love captured by the careful and inspired work of small hands.
Binoculars. Everything started with binoculars. Raised voices beckoned me from my breakfast-clean-up-duty, and when I arrived on scene, I saw Simone and Addie negotiating the shared use of a set of homemade binoculars made from repurposed cardboard tubes. Let me add that the negotiations were heated, and moving from unproductive to counterproductive in rapid fashion.