Eyes On The Ball
Someone asked me recently if my blog is still active, to which I promised them it is, explaining my heart and mind are just channeled elsewhere for a bit. My passion and pride still remain on these pages though, and although I’m not currently as prolific as in the past, there are days where something comes along which needs to be shared.
My two children were seven and four years old, respectively, the day their parents decided to split. Eight months later they watched us finalize our divorce, and move on into a new life as single parents. They were both innocent bystanders in the fairly painful process, and now some seven plus years later, they still have questions about the how and why. Since then, though, there’s been a lot of healing, a lot of explanations had, many old problems talked through and laughed at, and where hatred and angst once existed a simple respect and friendship has developed between adults. Although it took a lot of time and growing up on both ends, my kids have certainly been the beneficiaries in all of it. We still talk openly about the good and the bad, and hope some way and somehow, they can understand. Such is life. Having watched my kids go through their struggles, it’s safe to say there remains a soft spot in my heart for kids whose parents are going through divorce. It’s tough at 6 years old to understand grownup problems. Heck, sometimes it’s just as tough at 36.
Earlier today, a 6 year-old boy who has been in Vision Therapy for close to eight months and is an absolute joy to work with, had a tough session. He wouldn’t listen. He wouldn’t comply. When I got on his case a little, he crawled under the table, sat with his head between his knees and started to cry. My immediate thought was he disliked the activity we were working on, or quite possibly, we were about to have a breakthrough, and so my reaction followed suit. Once it became clear that wasn’t the case and this was something much different, I crawled onto the floor next to him and we sat together until he was finished crying.
“My daddy moved out of our house yesterday…”
If you’ve ever met me, or if you ever meet me, you’ll quickly discover it is a rare situation where I’m without words. My responses are often laced with humor, sarcasm, some poorly thought out insight, some fun-loving attempt to lighten the mood, and of course, compassion and respect. My words come from the heart, sometimes without consent from my brain, and occasionally to my own detriment. It’s a talent and a curse. I’m here to tell you in that moment under the table, I had nothing.
Absolutely nothing at all.
Honestly, all I could manage was to wonder if my kids had ever sat under someone else’s table and cried when our dark days were upon us. Not really knowing where to go with this, and understanding full well this young man was reaching out to me in his own way, my daddy brain kicked in. Right or wrong, I reminded him how complicated grownup problems can be. I reminded him how much both his parents love him, and I reminded him he will still be safe when he goes home to sleep tonight. As the conversation progressed, I did eventually share my story and told him as a dad, the only thing that changed was my address, not my love for my kids. Nothing will ever change that love, no matter where I live and no matter where my kids decide to go when they’re grown, it’s going to be there. We talked about how surely that is the case with his mom and dad, which helped a little. A very little. As we both collected ourselves, we walked out to the waiting area and asked his mom to join us for the last few minutes of our session. I offered mom a recap which was tear-producing for all of us, gave my young friend a hug, told him I was excited to see him next week, and sent them on their way.
So many days it seems we worry about the little things; proper note taking, equipment being put away correctly, or even who left a mess in our office kitchen. We become irritated by something a co-worker said, or concerned by the tone in the voice of the doctor, or even worried about the dollars in our paycheck. These issues and items which exist in the minutia become overblown or over analyzed and we spend who knows how much time perseverating over them. It happens all the time and we all do it.
But every once in a while some six-year-old comes along, sits under our table, and slaps us in the proverbial face as he cries his eyes out because his little world is falling apart. In those situations, the trust and love inherent in their decision to share with you is not to be taken lightly, and certainly not taken for granted. It is a gift. My little six-year-old friend reminded me today to keep my eyes on the ball and stay focused on helping people. His little heart needs much more assistance than I’m trained to offer; however, he also reminded me that he is a person, not a number, a chart, or a billable hour. He is a person.
And if we stay focused on that fact, another piece quickly becomes clear. The minutia doesn’t really matter.
Keep your eyes on the ball.