A New Friend

seat

Photo: duffylondon.com

 

There needs to be an extra chair now at the table, another place setting, extra fork. The bath requires extra towels. Reading choices necessitate an added pause. There are lively conversations from the bedroom, laughter, whispered dialogue, deep monologues. A seat to save in rides, a window-or-middle deliberation. Opinions of a first-line advisor, a determined intermediate, a confidante.

Granted, he is secretive, selective, and exclusive. It doesn’t mean he isn’t a good friend.

Accepting him is fact, not question. Get used to it. He’s there. He may not show up to explain, but he will not be ignored or shunned. Be nice. He has deep feelings. He has needs. A keen mind.

Should not matter that he is a dragon-human made of magic. Invisible to all but a certain little one.

 

For The Daily Post

A Way Out

Clay Tablet Babylon Ca. 2000-1700 BC

Clay Tablet Babylon (Ca. 2000-1700 BC); SCHOYENCOLLECTION.com

 

“I just get lost,” she sighed. Her pre-teen face was creased with dejection.

Schoolwork is hard for her. She tries but often fails to live up not only to the expectations of her school, but also – and harder still – to her own views of perfection. She begins. Gives up. Procrastinates. Misses deadlines. Then needs to make-up what she had delayed as well as keep up with current assignments. School is a merry-go-round of stress and frustration.

“Lost how?” I prompted. Not only did I want to understand more about what she’d meant (rather than assume I knew it), but one of the things we’d been working on is expanding her ability to narrate her feelings and perceptions, explain and communicate her needs.

She glanced at me, not quite in irritation, but almost.

“I’m not being tricky,” I smiled. “I really want to understand.”

“Fine,” she sighed again. Her brow furrowed as she thought, and she reached over to the pad of paper that rested on the desk between us. Doodling can sometimes help make paths for words.

She scribbled for a moment, then her breath deepened and she flipped to a new page on the pad. “It’s like this,” she said.

She drew a labyrinthine squiggle that turned several times onto itself. Added another squiggle that sprouted from it, then another, and another. Sketched a stick figure at one end of the criss-crossed creation  and a bulls-eye at the other. Looked up at me to see if I’m still paying attention.

Very much so. I smiled encouragement.

“I have stuff to do and I think I know how, but I start doing it and then I get stuck,” she moved her finger over the squiggle till it ‘hit a wall.’ “So I go back, and I try another way … and I get stuck again,” her finger slid on top of the paper to another dead-end.

She looked up again. Her eyes were bright.

“So I get lost …” she swiveled her finger around the squiggly lines in a half-aimless, half-frantic manner. “It’s too hard. I give up.”

“I hear you. I really do.” I nodded, lifted my pen, and drew another squiggle around hers, connecting the pencil figure with the bulls-eye. “We need to find a better way. A way without a maze.”

 

 

For The Daily Post

“I Gray?”

play-dough-people-faces

Photo: picklebums.com

 

His maman is from Haiti. His “so called papa” is “no one you’d want to remember” (as per his maman and grand-maman) because he has “no color in his eyes or heart.”

The boy has soft waves of honey brown hair. Cupid lips. Deep brown eyes. Light caramel skin. Freckles on his nose.

He’s recently discovered the magic of combining colors. He finds it entrancing. He is especially moved by the alchemy of what happens when you add white.

“You have black?” he asks, pointing to the Play-doe containers on my shelf.

“No,” I note, “I ran out. But I have brown.”

“Let me see.”

I hand him a container and he pulls the lid off and inspects the contents. “It in the wrong place,” he states, pointing to the yellow lid.

“I know. I just used a container I already had. It didn’t come that way. We made the brown from mixing different colors.”

“Who make it?”

“One of the other kids I work with made it. You want to try and make brown, too?”

He frowns, considers, shakes his head. “But I want some.”

“You want to use some of it? Sure. Go ahead.”

He pinches a bit of the dough and rolls in pensively between his fingers. “You have white?”

“I do!” I give him the white-topped container. He peeks in. After the yellow-topped one holding brown, one never knows …

He pulls out a chunk and begins kneading the white piece into the brown. A moment passes, then another. He’s quiet. He’s got something on his mind.

“Brown people are called black,” he notes.

“Hmm…” I nod. I wonder if he’d say more.

He glances at the yellow lid and I wonder if he’s wondering if it is one more of those “in the wrong place” designations. He sighs.

“I black but I also white,” he raises his eyes to me. “That mean I gray?”

 

 

For The Daily Post

 

 

Tenacity

orphanage

 

He lay alone. A crib among a sea of cribs.

No one. No home.

Lifted, unwrapped, rewrapped, put down.

Indistinct sounds

Disembodied cries: His own? Others? Anyone?

His voice ignored.

Too many babies, too few staff.

He learned to rock himself to sleep.

His mind took him away from hunger, fear, despair, exhaustion.

Alone.

Alone.

Alone.

Contracted world. Folded unto its own.

 

Eternity.

 

Then in the numbing monotony

Different arms.

 

Lifted into chaos

Faces too close, movement too rapid, changes too many.

Sounds mouthed.

Rapid. Jumbled. Urgent.

Unknown.

Numbness threatened, overwhelm piled on.

Snail in. Check out. Burrow deep into alone.

 

Still something tugged. Come back.

Smiles. Cooing. Soft hands.

Gentle rocking that filtered into his own and

Enveloped

Awakened

Yearning. Sorrow. Despair. Hope. Panic. Need.

Too much. Too much. Too much.

He fled into his mind.

He peeked out. Fled back in.

Moments alternated:

Aware, away, awake, afraid, alarmed, asleep.

 

Days passed on

Eternity or weeks or months.

Soft words repeated gently

More faces

More holding arms

In rocking, humming, tenderness

Language.

Song.

New scaffold rose as

Meaning slowly dispersed fog

Into words.

A world.

Gentle hands.

Comfort.

Soothing voices at disembodied cries: his own?

His own.

His voice.

Calling.

For someone.

To come.

And they come.

 

 

 

For The Daily Post

Minimal

black-dot

 

“What is that?” I asked about the dot the four-year-old had just purposed onto the page.

We’d been talking about living and non-living things, sorting pictures and ideas.

He looked up at me. “It a minimal.” His tone stated this was obvious.

“A what?”

He raised a small eyebrow, slowed his speech to meet my apparently plummeting intellect. “A Mini-Mal. A very teeny teeny animal.”

 

 

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Biggest in his eyes!

Giraffe

“My daddy is more bigger,” he announced after examining a photo on my wall of my niece and her (rather tall) husband. His curls bounced in certitude and his tone spanned the space from pity to challenge.

“Is he?” I noted, winking at the boy’s mom.

I know the father. Objectively this little guy’s dad isn’t particularly tall, but this wasn’t about being objective … To his son, the father may as well be the giant of all giants.

“Yea,” the preschooler nodded emphatically. “My daddy is even more bigger than …” he scanned the room for inspiration, “… a whole Empire State Building house or even more bigger than …” he narrowed his eyes in concentration, opened them wide, “a giraffe!”

 

For The Daily Post

 

For The Record

dressup

 

For the record, she is fierce, even if she is in fluffy skirts and fleecy socks and every color of barrette holding on to dear life in her hair.

For the record, she is loving, even if she screams at her baby brother, narrows her eyes to daggers when she doesn’t get her way, and pushes every one of her mother’s buttons till something gives and tantrums fly.

For the record, she is smart, even if she cannot quite “do numbers” the way some of her classmates can and even if her words tend to come out upside down and sideways and in the wrong order and all too often not quite on the topic.

For the record, she has lots to say, even if she shrugs an “I don’t know” or grunts a precocious “whatever” because explaining feels too hard and some words hide and narrative does not form the way she senses that it ought to.

For the record, she is funny, even if she may not laugh at some jokes other people say, because she doesn’t get the puns and is still out to lunch on idioms and doesn’t quite see humor in confusing riddles.

For the record, she is thoughtful, even if she often acts before she seems to think (because she cannot always get the thought in time to matter), and reacts as if she doesn’t care (when she if fact cares more than many).

For the record, she is brave, and utterly indomitable. She works harder than most realize and deals with more frustration than is reasonable. And yet, she does still try. She may do so in frowns and pouts and at times even in ways that appear less than fully loveable. But she has no bone in her that isn’t kind. Just all too many that are over-tender.

For the record, she is a handful and a heart-full. She is bubbling with spirit and wriggling with life. She’d keep you on your toes, but oh boy would you earn a good dance for it! For a little body, she packs some serious soul punch.  She is fabulous personified. A guaranteed-to-wake-you-up-in-the-morning child.

 

 

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Mini Picasso

 

“This is a big big big mountain and it have a train and it go ‘choo-CHOOOO!’ round and round and also flowers but you see them fast because it a train and rainbow and my name.” (J.N, age 3:4)

 

mini picasso

 

 

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English: Tough Enough?

Bel Air Library Baltimore

 

English …

The impossible nuance of words that do not follow through

And rules that leave one without clue

Enough to grow a frown on many brow

As they doggedly attempt to plough

A minefield of delivery so rough

It leaves them justifiably gruff …

 

This video never fails to make me … laugh!

 

Butterflies

butterflies-photographer unknown

 

She had butterflies in her tummy. Her heart was in her throat. Jitters like little worry critters jumbled through her thoughts. She felt apprehensive, anxious, wary, shaky. Her feet felt twitchy, her hands clammy. She was timorous and nervy.

Not quite frightened. Not quite sorry. Hyper with a smidge of happy and a sprinkling of uneasy.

She was both hungry and queasy. She kept fretting. She felt trembly.

Recital day in all its glory.

 

 

For The Daily Post