The Bully Too Close to Home

“Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.”  –Brene Brown

“Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.”
–Brene Brown

During the two years of my overly distracted life, I communicated more to a screen than to the people in my family. My schedule was so tightly packed that I constantly found myself saying, “We don’t have time for that.” And because there wasn’t a minute to spare, that meant no time to relax, be silly, or marvel at interesting wonders along our path. I was so focused on my “agenda” that I lost sight of what really mattered.

Calling all the shots was a mean voice in my head. My internal drill sergeant was continually pushing me to make everything sound better, look better, and taste better. My body, my house, and my achievements were never good enough. Holding myself to such unattainable standards weighed heavily on my soul and my inner turmoil eventually spilled out at people I loved the most.

Sadly, there was one person in particular who bore the brunt of my discontent: my first-born daughter.

She could not make mess without me shaking my head in disappointment.

She could not forget her homework, her jacket, or her lunchbox without me making a big deal about it.

She could not spill,
stain,
break,
or misplace
without being made to feel like she’d made the worst mistake in the world.

Although it pains me to write this, I remember sighing heavily in annoyance when she fell down and hurt herself because it threw me off my “master schedule.” My daughter was not allowed to be a child who learned by trying and yes, sometimes failing.

The truth hurts, but the truth heals … and brings me closer to the person and parent I want to be.

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Brushing Away the Fears of the World

“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” -Maya Angelou

“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” -Maya Angelou

When the occupational therapist handed each of us a three-inch plastic brush, my co-teacher and I looked skeptically at one another.

I was pretty sure we were both thinking of certain male students in our classroom who possessed a force with no limits. In a fit of rage, they could destroy the classroom with one hand while putting a classmate in a headlock with the other.

And these boys, who made pro wrestlers look like amateurs, were going to be calmed by a measly brush?

I just couldn’t see it.

But when you’re desperate, you begin to look for hope in unusual forms. Not only had the first three weeks of school been challenging; they had been soul-crushing. We quickly understood why the twelve particular students in our class had exhausted all other special education resources in the district. And unfortunately, if they could not make progress in our specialized program, they’d be forced to attend an alternative school.

That’s where the little plastic brush came in.

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