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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Challenges...

My just turned fourteen year old daughter Jillian in grade eight, has challenges on this earth that are very different from mine. These challenges of hers cause me to struggle with how to guide her.

The moment that the doctor placed that baby on my body my arms enveloping her, I felt a frightening surge of utmost responsibility. It was now my job to see to it that she lived in a world where she could do anything that she wanted to do without external society-created barriers. A world where each individual was honoured for her or his gifts. This has been one of my challenges, especially living in what is sometimes considered “Red Necked” rural Alberta.

Jillian was a quiet and demure wee baby who never cried. She had this quiet little whimper that would emit when she needed something – which was rare. At one year of age, she sat on the entryway step beside the key hook and spent one hour taking each key off, investigating it, lining each one up neatly beside her until they were all off of the hook and then she proceeded to put them back on the hook one at a time. She did this silently over and over again for one hour until her dad walked in the door to disrupt the activity. I’ve always wondered how long that one year old would have sat there otherwise. At two years of age she could sing full and complete songs and just belt them out from way down deep inside of her. At three years of age, Jillian received an office in a box for a gift from my mom. We had a little desk in the dining room and she would sit at it for hours and hours, making notes, paper clipping notes together, cutting and filing and organizing. It was also at three that she began to have severe stomach aches and we started a long journey to see what the cause of these were. At age five, she sat with small Tupperware® containers and a collection of marbles and she played with these items on the living room floor, one day for five hours, in a solitary state, sorting and pouring and transferring from one container to another.

And still at this age even, she rarely cried. She was so composed all of the time. No highs, no lows.

We continued working through the tummy ache issue. We tried everything with conventional doctors, that one can imagine, and then we sought alternative methods. I took Jillian to an amazing Intuitive who is also a therapeutic massage therapist. What she told me was life altering. She felt that Jillian harboured emotions and that they sat in that wee tummy of hers, festering. This made more sense than anything we had heard. This composed wee girly of mine wasn’t releasing her emotions and she was choosing to be sedentary more than physical, using her mind much and not expressing outwardly. Following the Intuitive’s wise guidance and over her short life here, we have provided her with many opportunities to emote and to release, be it helping to connect her with people to teach her how to meditate, providing her with tools and opportunities to write but also mandating and modeling daily physical activity as a way to release.

Starting School
- Jillian could hardly wait to get to school and when the bus arrived for her first day, she raced to it! This was a memorable outburst of emotion. She could already read but anticipated learning about the entire world and could barely contain herself. It didn’t happen in the way that she had hoped. She was boxed in. In September of her grade one year she wrote this,

“There once was a beautiful rare butterfly that wanted to fly. But someone captured it and caged it and didn’t let it out. And the butterfly was sad.”

My heart broke and I shared it with her teacher with the hope that we could find a way to work together to help my wee six year old. We both cried and the teacher was just plain shocked, having no idea that my girly was dying inside. I didn’t feel as if I was doing a very good job of paving a path for her to do anything that she wanted. We joined as a team and began to look for new learning opportunities for Jillian. I put her on a waiting list for private vocal lessons and she began playing the piano. Music is powerful and has played a huge role in her life. Through music, she has met three important mentors in her life for which I am grateful. Thanks to a wonderful grade three and four teacher, a few years soared by smoothly. In grade five Jillian had a classroom teacher who placed her up on a pedestal. He was in awe of her dedication to a task and allowed her to explore and take control of her own learning. Although I am grateful for so much of what he offered her, by putting her up on a pedestal, he also facilitated something that I didn’t like. Jillian began to behave as if she had something inside of her that was better than others. For as much as I tried to instill in her that she had just discovered some of her gifts early, that everyone has gifts and that those gifts are not subject to some sort of evaluation scale but work in harmony to bring about a healthy good balance to our world, she doubted me. After all she could think quickly on her toes and respond accordingly causing many adults around her to just back down and for kids to support her. Grade six was upon her where she met a teacher who had personality clashes with many students, fellow teachers and parents and made the decision to enter into power struggles with Jillian. This year Jillian gains control of the class and we deal with bullying issues with Jillian being the bully. With guidance and support from a wise friend and with my ability to reach out and research, Jillian and I begin working through this and by November, the bullying is no longer evident.

Junior High starts and she is in a room with her easy going, kind-hearted older brother and a teacher who has his own challenges in this world that collide with his ability to teach. Once again she begins to behave as if she knows “it” all and is better than others. Does she believe this? Not when we have heart to heart, one on one discussions. And so… we have many, and spend oodles of time together just the two of us. However her condescending behaviour towards the teacher continues.

Today, she is fourteen in grade eight, has a brilliant mind, beautiful voice and yet she continues to feel like a caged butterfly – I know this and know not what to do… and so this morning before school and inspired by one of my mentors, I challenged her – “Today”, I said. “I want you to look for the best in three people that you usually do not see the best in… feel how your life changes for the better.”

I am at a loss and feel that I should know what to do after all I am the mom - My invitation to you is to help guide me so that I can continue to guide her…

Thank you.

…Ellyn
My Toothless Butterfly Girly