But, sometimes the pain just has to burn and the sobs wear down and innocence loose a thread. Tonght was one such night. At first it was hard not to laugh and then the truth and depth of Casey's disappointment and disillusionment penetrated my adult perspective--honed by time and the acceptance of years.
Casey can not draw--this is a gift that just isn't his--I doubt that the tutelage of an expert would change this. But--he wants so badly to be an artist. For some reason this is a talent he values and feels provides self-worth. Maybe someone he admires at school and wants to emulate is an artist, maybe it is all the museums he has been to in his young life--one thing is certain, it isn't because of any gifts of nonna (grandma) and nonno (grandpa)--together, nonni. At my advanced age I am satisfied when my stick figure has feet and hands.
Tonight he was working on a school project--he is to illustrate a favorite story and make a quilt of the pictures. He decided to do David and Goliath as it offers great opportunities for colorful, powerful illustrations and the characters are so dynamic and defined.
But--his rendition of Goliath was hysterically funny--except he didn't think so. He burst into tears--the kind that comes from deep within the psyche. The kind that doesn't respond to comfort and soothing words. The kind that becomes body wracking almost convulsive sobbing and wailing.
I met no success in helping him-just couldn't find the right combination of thoughts and words to calm him, to suggest other approaches to the project or provide any sensible perspective on his plight. Of course, what could have been more foolish than "providing perspective?" He's 7--his only perspective is that Goliath looked terrible--that he had fat arms and teeny legs. And--more sobs.
Fortunately, about the time my helplessness reached my gut, Ken called from Tennessee. And he, magically and compassionately, had just the right things to say--promising help, reminding Casey of what a good "colorer" he is and sharing words that built confidence and self-worth.
Then I could hold and comfort as the sobs subsided, the tears stopped and the wails quieted. And again, I understood that no feeling can come close to the sense of purpose that comforting a child gives--it is a clarification of what our truly important role is and what is to be cherished. Comforting a child becomes an act of selfishness as the love that one feels and releases becomes a purifier and validator of having had purpose in life. As I pour myself into the love of the innocent, I am renewed.