Thursday, March 26, 2009


Thomas is our boy who resists doing anything new, so I was very happy when he agreed to practice riding a bike without training wheels. Sure enough, he pedaled hard, so he's almost ready to go it alone; he just has to be able to brake and stop by himself. So that's what we practiced: stopping without falling down.

I'm used to running around for basketball, but for some reason his starts and stops and near-crashes quickly had me winded!

After a number of tries, he started saying that he wanted to do it by himself. He's quite ready to pedal by himself, and maybe I should have allowed him to go and see for himself what happens at the end. But I said I'd help start and push him ONLY if we practice stopping, too; if he wanted me to totally let him go, then I would also let him get started all by himself. He kept asking, so I let him do it all by himself. He struggled to get on the bike, but he fell; I cushioned his fall, but he put his face down on the cement and balled. I sat down next to him. We just sat there for a minute while he wailed. He took his time and yelled for the sympathy of anyone nearby, spilling tears on the driveway.

Then he moved over to get next to me, curled up on his side, put his head in my lap, and went quiet. I put my hand on his shoulder. And we just sat for a while. The sky was overcast and a breeze was blowing, cool but comfortable here as we're emerging from winter. I hope I'll never lose that snapshot of us sitting there, with nobody else nearby... everything still and silent except for the company of the winter wind.

What a marvellous thing, to be trusted as a source of comfort!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

a great meeting with caring people

The other day, we had a great conference with some school teachers and administrators. It was about 50 intense minutes with 8 adults. I'll highlight 5 seconds of it as an example of why it was great.

We were mostly done, and the principal (Mrs. White) started talking straight at our daughter. She got direct, talking a bit sternly about what she expected. At one point, Mrs. White told our girl how she was sixth in some ranking in her class. Later, Mrs. White asked her, "Do you know why I mentioned your ranking?" I understood; she mentioned it because it showed how our girl was very capable, and able to do great work if she would apply herself. However, that's not how she took it; she said something about getting to the top place, meaning she felt like she was expected to improve from sixth to first.

Mrs. White contintued, not catching that she had misunderstood. So our Vice-Principal Mrs. Fletcher said something to our girl, correcting the misunderstanding. At this point, Mrs. White caught on to the confusion, and she attempted to fix it as she continued. All of this was done in a spirit of cooperation, with attitudes that showed respect even if someone needed correction.

Much more went on in the meeting, with many individual perspectives and even somewhat contrary opinions. In fact, there were times that someone was cut off or their point was dismissed because it didn't help with our goal. But everyone in the room was focused on a constructive outcome. Although I don't think it was perfect for anyone, I do believe everyone could feel the care and concern for our girl, and everyone showed true respect for one another throughout. It gave me pause afterward. It's good to be a part of that kind of thing.

What a great meeting.