I have thought several times over the past few days about writing in here and I hesitated to because I felt like I would spending time angsting over Will, and I'm not sure I want this to be a place to record my frustrations with Will. I hesitated because one general goal I have for myself as a parent is to try to minimize negativity in general. I feel that way because although I know my parents loved (and love) me, I remember long, long stretches of childhood where life seemed just plain old unpleasant. Obviously that could be my own selective memory, but regardless, I'd like to do what I can so that Will (and Turtle) don't look back on their childhoods with a vague, nameless sort of sadness and shame. (I remember feeling ashamed a lot, in the 'embarrassed/awkward' sense of the word, not the 'guilty' sense of the word).
On the other hand, there is a limit to the number of people in my daily/weekly routine that I can and do talk to about Will and the things I'm thinking/observing about him. I certainly speak to S about many of my thoughts, but not everything. Thus, the need to write about it.
I suppose its as simple as Will is almost 2. He is in high development-mode, experimental, curious, intense, and very socially observant. This means he is also very difficult to redirect or get obediance from. We continue to struggle with his kicking and hitting of us and the pets. It doesn't seem to be meant in anger or out of a desire to hurt, but more in the vein of experimentation and amusement at the response. I am truly torn over whether to ignore it completely or not. Neither seems right or effective. It is hard to believe that this is the same child who also regularly gives hugs and kisses very spontaneously and lovingly.
One observation I had today was that he has a hard time with abstract choice. " Will, do you want to watch your movie or get a snack? " 100% percent of the time, he chooses one thing only to reverse his choice. So, either he doesn't understand the mechanics of choosing, or he is doing it deliberately. Either way, because it can be frustrating (for both of us), its something I want to work on. My idea was to begin with offering him choices over physical things (" Do you want the grapes or the cheese? "
and have both on hand to point to. And see if that gets us any closer to meaningful choices from him across the board.
Regardless of what else is going on, there is not a day that goes by that my heart doesnít break with love as I watch or hold him.
I am taking a "Finding Yourself at Unity" course at the church we joined. It has been fascinating. During the first session, we got some history of the Unitarian and Universalist movements, which seemed to have encompassed all the great writers/thinkers/theologians of the 1800's. But even further back, there were debates, apparently, in the early Christian church before the Nicene creed was codified over the godhead - as a trinity or a unity. Initially the Unitarian movement's focus was the idea that the worship of Christ and the Holy Spirit were distractions from the worship of God. Give or take 1,000 nuances. Obviously the Unitarian Universalists of today have taken that idea further than Emerson or Eliot or Channing could ever have imagined. So, the history was fascinating. On the second night, we spend some time doing mini versions of an activity I had NO idea was part of Unity's church life - covenant groups. I hadn't ever heard of this, but apparently is very common in the more evangelical Christian churches. The idea, so I understand, is that 8-10 people agree to meet for 2 hours per month and whether or not they have a theme to their particular covenant group (examples I heard were the environment, individual spirituality, social justice, etc.) the format is for each individual to have the opportunity to share their thoughts, uninterrupted, for a period of time, and then have the opportunity to offer the same gift of listening to others. It was made clear that the point is not to debate or even discuss, really. Just focused attention on an individual. Some groups have very simple covenants (we will try our best to attend, we will not share anything said to this group outside of the group), others have different types of covenants (although I didn't get concrete examples of those). Its sounds wonderful, to me. The idea of sharing, supporting, communing, loving within a small group of people, without the pressure of response or action. The woman telling us about these groups said that these groups are what support her - ie attending service on Sundays in and of itself doesn't give her the community she is looking for, but these groups do. And, obviously since its Unity, participation in these groups is entirely voluntary.
The last part of the session was a great overview from one of the ministers of the social justice groups and work at the church, how they evolve(d), how they operate, what the institutional support is for them. I won't do the minister's description justice, but essentially he explained how he and his wife/co-minister had arrived at their method for social justice work. He said it is explicitly designed to drain away the urgency and the inner rage of the individuals wanting to do social justice work. He said that his observation is that activists, especially liberal ones, seem to operate from a place of personal, unacknowledged rage (this rang true for me), and that we/they are generally willing to do the following in this order: lots of marching, calls to legislators, etc.; some self education (but he said we are chronically over educated so we tend to be know it alls; and lastly, actual community service. He said his model for social justice work is to reverse those in their prioritization: first and most, community service; secondly, self education, and lastly activism. He then described how they have translated this into the format by which a group of people within Unity receive a charter to do whatever type of social justice work they want to do. And, since this is getting too long already, I won't go into it, but I came out being very humbled by the degree of thought that has gone into the development and execution of Unity's goals. I know that there is WAY more at most churches than meets the eye on Sunday mornings, but I really think that I could have nothing in common with the ideals of Unity and still have profound respect for the authenticity and thought and hard work that has gone into its development.
One interesting note: Apparently, in the 50's and 60's, very white/middleclass Unity was one of the most active churches in the Civil Rights movement in the Twin Cities. One of its largest social justice teams today is the Antiracism Group.
I want S to renew himself Ė meaning, I want for him a renewal of himself, a restocking, a re-energizing. He works so hard and seems lonely. I have no idea how to give him this Ė he is hard to help. I am making a conscious effort to actively, meaningfully support and love him so that he has that as a source to draw from. He is going to NYC over Thanksgiving (while Iím in Indy) with a friend to see a few concerts. Iím truly excited for him and hope that itís a great time for him. Iím not sure that that trip would accomplish the above, but its something.