Friday, September 07, 2001

Listening to the Warm

And so we begin another year. This year we are alight with hope for the days
that will come. As "mushy" as it sounds this year amongst the staff there
actually seems to be a glow as if we are pregnant with ideas. There is a
warmth a sharing of ideas and pedagogy. But most important people are
communicating with each other. Of course there still exists the administrative
witch hunt but this is part of the trade.

Rod McKuen (despite
a lot of evidence to the contrary) was a good poet and one of his poems which
touched me the deepest was
to the Warm."
How it touched me was in that revered silence that was
sung, danced, argued and fought about -- that personal nirvana we reach through
meditation. Keep in mind everyone's form of meditation is different. Some
of us are lotus eaters while others of us dance around the fire naked; some
find it in the rush of adrenaline and others in the push towards perfection.
It is all mediation and as
Edgar Cayce said
"…meditation is man listening to god."

The "warm" in this case is the communal understanding of our community within
the school walls. The acceptance we have in our roles as teachers, therapists,
friends: family. Our school does have a glow from this warm, a noticeable
reflection of who and what we are.

But sometimes this warm is achieved in ways that are not so noticeable. And
part of the listening that takes place is extremely difficult and hard to
understand when it comes to our children. An experience I had early this
school year was with a returning student. A student whom I believe I "know"
pretty well (which translates into the concept that Johnny "trusts"
me) was acting out in the lunch room, typical acting seeking attention in
negative ways. Unfortunately, these negative ways often and do erupt into
major acting out. In this case twelve year old Johnny erupted into
cursing, flailing his arms and trying to toss over the tables. It is not
often we have to physically restrain a child but there are times when these
things become necessary. This day it was necessary.

Using a Crisis
Prevention Institute, Inc
. certified "standing basket hold" I held
Johnny, his arms across his chest as he screamed his obscenities and
demands for me to let him go and in his frustration he wept. These were wracking
sobs deep weeping that was more than the external dilemma that Johnny
was dealing with at the moment. His sobs came from somewhere deep inside
his "listening" and the "warm" was so entrenched and devastating -- there
are places within our children that no matter how deep and twisted we go
we most likely will have never experienced the hurt, shame or pain of our

It was there in a "restraint" that I understood what Johnny wanted,
Johnny was not out of control, Johnny wanted someone to hold
him, someone he could bury his tears into, someone who would make him feel
safe. But in a Special Education school, a residential environment, a place
where your peers watch every move you make and then hold it against you,
a place where machismo is more important than emotion, a place where
respect really equates to fear.  Johnny could not be seen
crying in someone's arms. We stood against the wall my forehead pressed into
the wall above his, Johnny's arms still crossed over his chest but
instead of gripping his wrists I let my arms hang around him. Yes, outwardly
Johnny was being restrained by Mr. K. But inwardly, this bond we had,
this understanding, Johnny knew, he knew I knew, and he understood
that this was the time to cry And yes, Johnny wept, and he brought
up all that warm that swirled inside him and he let it bubble out of him
one tear at a time.