When I was a kid, I was a tyrant to my world. My siblings received my wrath regularly starting with (an attempt at) pulling my newborn sister out of her crib when I was only 18 months old. As I got older, the intensity of impact on my world only increased.
But there are some adults out there who guide children in the way that the spirit of life would have it. Life opens us to feel, and there have been adults in eldership roles during my childhood who played a key role in my development by providing a greater experience of feeling. I am very thankful for each of these wise souls who crossed and blessed this path.
When I was about 6, I had become fond of throwing my brother into the drywall of my house, sometime hard enough to crack it. My parents were obviously perplexed as to what to do, but I’m sure after some contemplation, my Abba decided to help me feel. He gave me a (much gentler) taste of what I had been doing to my brother, without anger, as impersonally as the blowing of wind. My shoulder impacted the wall and the synapses of my adolescent brain suddenly made connections I never had before: “This actually feels like something.” Prior to that my siblings registered only as inanimate objects to be toyed with like my stuffed animals.
Later in my pre-teen years a neighbor adjacent to us was keeping bees in his yard, and sometimes they would become aggressive towards us on our property as we played. Once we identified their source, a little crate hive just on the other side of the 6ft fence, we fought back: with rocks, sticks, oranges, or any other projectile we could find. The owner noticed.
He was a Hispanic man with a ghoti and wiry-asian-like black hair. We called him “Chewy,” and there was a fair amount of superstition and fear dividing more than just a brick wall between us. “Hey Kids!” he yelled one day well into our anti-bee campaign. We coward, ready to flee. He shook his head, disarming us, indicating we weren’t in trouble. “Come here!” He waved, “I want to show you something.”
We were on his wall, and now by invitation our feet touched soil on his side of the yard for the first time. We crossed the 50 yard storage of motorcycles and other small motorized devices and their related periphery. I cowered again, now even more aware that I only stood shoulder height to him. “Come inside,” he repeated in a more friendly tone, “I want to show you something.” Would we ever return? It was too late. We were in too deep and if this would get us off the hook than so be it.
Inside the house of a man named Chewy, he opened a large jar of golden liquid. “Taste this,” he said. A clean spoon was in my hand, golden on one end. Its sticky sweet flavor was familiar, but never this vivid. “This is was those bees are making out there. Respect their work.” The point was well delivered! Chewy gave us something to chew on, literally!!
Now its payback time. My son Josiah is nearly 6, acting in many ways that mirror my foggy memories of myself. His pattern recently has been to tell people he hates them when something happens he doesn’t like. This is a step up from the more destructive things that have happened. Some consequences included the usual regime, but there tends to be eternal impasse with children until they can be somehow made to FEEL. I came home from work to stories of another incident. This time it was fresh, within 20 mins in the past and it was time for me to act. I called my son over and our sweet little neighbor who he often plays with. This toe-headed ballerina will likely grow up to be the poster-image of his dream girl when he is grown and they get along well.
I called the two near each other but not before whispering in her ear to do me a favor and tell Josiah that she hates him. She complied, shyly, whispering sweetly in his ear smiling all the while. Then she wisely stepped two paces back. She knows my son well.
How does that make you feel, Josiah? “Like I want to punch her in the face,” he stammered. I then made all the connections to what had just happened towards his teacher a few minutes earlier. “I was just angry because I was having fun and didn’t want to leave. I don’t hate my teacher.” “Okay, well, there is someone who needs to hear that now. Let’s go talk to her.”
I thanked our little neighbor and “de-roled” having them hug. And we went to have a conversation to make amends that was probably long overdue, and not possible without an experience of the ability to FEEL.