A Mini-Essay…

And now for something completely different from our usual type of posts.

Onesies are popping up everywhere with funny little sayings on them, from the sweet “Please be nice to my parents; they haven’t had much sleep” to funny allusions “Spit up on authority” to the ego-ridden, “Please don’t give my parents any unsolicited advice.”

I guess it’s this last one I want to respond to with an anecdote, perhaps inspired by browsing through Babble.com as mentioned in Mark’s recent post.

By the time my daughter was four, I was feeling a little guilty that I would be making her feel like an invalid. I had taken her for chiropractic adjustments, cranial-sacral therapy, and even to a pediatric acupuncturist. My reason for the first two types of treatment was that she had a slightly odd gait. She also had stomach complaints and lots of other little quirks. It was my mother, a nurse, who actually suggested acupuncture. The acupuncturist treated her with not only his skills but also with loving kindness. He told me her stomach issues were stress related. I said, she is four–what does she have to be stressed about? His reply was really hard for me to hear. He said, “The problem is never with the child. Even though she is no longer inside your body, you still organize her system.”

At first I felt like “ouch!” But rather than regard it as just unsolicited advice or feel judged and wallow in some kind of guilt (which always turns to anger at the provoker), after a few days I was able to see this as an invitation. Wow, I organize her system. I am the grown-up and if I have this responsibility I must use it well. Advice that was so hard to hear, that felt so critical, became so productive.

And yet, four years later, when a conventional medical diagnosis did bring all her quirks into a coherent story, I was so tempted to think, “Aha, Mr. K. was wrong. She does have a problem and I knew development was not proceeding normally!” But then guess what? He is still right. I cannot put it on her. My job remains to organize her system. And if it sometimes seems like a little more work than it would be for a child developing typically with a typical system, well, she is worth it, and then some.

Incidentally, I think we impact the systems of everybody we live with, whether they are our biological children or not.


One thought on “A Mini-Essay…

  1. Elise says:

    “we impact the systems of everybody we live with”—-
    and work with, too, I think. So true. In recent months I’ve started paying closer attention to signals from my body and it definitely feels different around different people and in different situations.

    In experience design language, other people’s actions contribute to the quality of our experience and ours contribute to theirs…

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