Jack is exerting every ounce of power his little three-year-old self can muster. I am exhausted with the effort of out-maneuvering and overpowering that little boy's strong, strong will. Today, I have battle scars in the form of teeth marks. And he probably still tastes the lingering, acidic effect of the vinegar I stuck on his tongue. There are long, tough days ahead with that little guy. But that same tough, strong, passionate spirit that exhausts me also delights me. While he expresses his anger with abandon, so does he also express his love, adoration, and delight.
Amélie has been tough in a different way. She doesn't bite or hit or roar, but she does fling herself on the floor in moments of dramatic flair (and flair, mind you, is a nice way to put it).
"Do you really think I can figure out how to put QUOTATION MARKS OUTSIDE OF OTHER PUNCTUATION MARKS?!?!"
Oh, the horror. The injustice.
"YOU WANT ME TO MEMORIZE THIS POEM IN 8 WEEKS????? I CAN'T DO IT! I CAN'T! THERE'S NO WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!"
(She has already memorized the poem, by the way, which I knew she would and could. She learned "Bed in Summer" by Robert Louis Stevenson this week, and next week, we will start a new poem, probably...hopefully...with less panic and drama.)
I see myself in my kids. I see my own anger, bitten back, swallowed, and then expressed in peeled hangnails, anxiety, depression, and, in my past, through an eating disorder and other various self-destructive behaviors.
I also see in Jack different flavors of the OCD that haunts me today. It worries me. Scares me. Keeps me up at night with fear and grief.
And in Amélie, I see a mirror-image of the anxiety that plagues me day by day and moment by moment. How I often greet a new scenario with the desire to fling myself onto the floor, with her exact dramatic flair, and exclaim, "I can't! I can't! I just know I CAN'T!!!"
And that's the bad stuff.
But here's the good stuff, and I'm writing it here more for me to remember than for you. ;)
This week's homeschooling has been great. Truly great. Sure, there were the fits about quotation marks and poem memorization. But honestly, that's been the extent of drama in our homeschooling week, which is pretty much borderline miraculous. Her attitude has been amazing this week. She has delighted in learning about how birds incubate eggs. She has soaked up information on the upcoming Hindu festival of Diwali, and has helped me concoct ways that we can celebrate our own festival of lights. She has surprised me with the creative, bright color combinations of her rangolis. She brought me to tears as I saw the empathy and wonder and faith in her eyes as we finished the amazing, adventurous story of the missionary Gladys Aylward . She has absolutely floored me with her ability to memorize verses and poetry so quickly. It's been good.
And I want to remember this good next week, when she doesn't want to do a single blasted thing that is on our school to-do list.
Several years ago I discovered Leonard Cohen, and some of my favorite lines ever are from his song, "Anthem":
Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That's how the light gets in.
This week, I am thankful for the cracks that have let in some light. I needed light. Oh, how I needed light. Life is such a woven tapestry of chiaroscuro, and I am thankful that this week, I was blessed to spend some time in the light as well as the shadow. I am thankful that I can celebrate my own Diwali, my own festival of lights, within my soul.