“But what am I?” Her eyes were glassy from unshed tears.
“You’re you. And you’re wonderful,” I tried to reassure her, but she saw the worry on my face.
My beautiful daughter: smart, compassionate, kind to all things living and not. Seriously, the kid bonded to pet rocks! And she never did fit in a box.
“There just isn’t a label for you yet,” I said as the letters of the current acronym went through my mind. None of those letters fit.
But she wanted a label. As much as she didn’t fit into boxes, she always wanted them. She would even ask me to create them for her. “Just tell me what to do,” she would say, even as a teenager. I, however, was the worst parent for that request.
“I’ll help you find your way,” I would usually say. But this time I felt lost on how to do that. She was hurting, and I didn’t know how to help.
“I love you. We all love you.”
The words felt weak. Insufficient. How well would that love armor her against a world full of hate?
That was seven years ago, and my daughter travels the country, living life, lighting up the world the best she can. There’s still no perfect checkbox for her, but she has found a sense of belonging in other ways, and she makes the world a better place.
As I listened to Anderson Cooper recently read each name of those who died in Orlando, my fingernails cut into my clenched hands as I tried to stay as resolved as he was. With each name, I thought, that could have been my child. I will hear these names. Then I saw the text message of one child to his mother. I had no words. Only emotions in a sea of synesthesia.
My heart turned to CMASAS students. So many of our students are targeted – for their culture, or religion, or neurotype, or sexuality, or other reasons. Each one is precious. We open our arms to them and their families, and do what is within our power to help them find their way. And love them. Always love them.
But I find myself wondering what more we could do.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” ~ Fred Rogers
No matter who you were talking to – teachers, parents, students – the connections that you have fostered … are really outstanding.
This is one of the things that most stood out to me during the accreditation renewal process. We’re not just a school. We have been called a “chosen family” of eclectic individuals. United in that we’re different. United in compassion. Connected.
And you don’t even have to technically be part of the school. “It starts even before they get here.” Tina, team lead of AdvancedEd noted. They get to talk to friendly voices on the phone, and they get their questions answered, and they get their fears addressed…”
She’s correct. I’ve lost count of how many people I have spoken with on the phone, or even sat down to tea with, just to connect. Now multiply that by how many team members take those calls, and that’s how many lives we have the privilege of touching. It doesn’t even matter if the school itself is the solution, and sometimes other options are recommended. We’re all connected. That connection is honored.
“That’s a critical component on why students are successful in this school.” Tina concluded. “They really are supported individually by multiple people. And that just makes all the difference.”
Yes. Yes it does.
Wait, wait! Before you go.
I have questions to ask you. Things to say. And things to learn that I can only learn from you. Can we schedule some time together?
Yes, I know that it is already past time. There is no more time. We took time, missed other time, and now you are gone. My heart just doesn’t recognize this yet.
The above is reflective of a conversation I had with my daughter this morning after we learned that a beloved family member had passed from a freak accident, and neither of us could process it. A few days earlier, many people close to me were reeling from another death in the community from suicide. A few weeks earlier, I was at the memorial of a dear friend who also took his life.
My therapist asked me how I grieve. It’s admittedly an appropriate topic right now. She helped me see how my process is to shut down my own emotions and to take care of others. My own grief is delayed, perhaps indefinitely. Perhaps this is why my mind is stuck thinking that the separation is temporary, like an extended vacation, and we can get together again later.
Meanwhile, Kevin just left for Cuba for nine days, and since he won’t have cell service, my (obviously rather confused) brain is in full grief mode. Supposedly this is normal, and I just need to figure out how to find a focus for my grief. For the record, I’m annoyed by this feeling and prefer my “abnormal” way much better.
Here’s to taking the time when we have it, gratitude for what was, and treasuring what is.
[Updated from April 08, 2009] Do you hear in color? Many people do! And this is just one form of crossing perceptual modalities. Since this trait can impact learning, it is important to be aware of it and how it can be a gift or a challenge – or both!
I have always associated colors with different things such as sounds, words/concepts, days/months, and even letters/numbers. I also perceive all of these, and many other things, to have genders and personalities. My first clue that not everyone thought this way was when, as a child, I asked my grandmother if my ring finger was a girl or a boy. She told me that all of my fingers were girls because I am a girl. I decided to not ask Grandma these types of questions.
There are tests you can take, but they have some limitations. My scores on a battery of tests I took range from .36 to .76, and anything below 1.0 is considered synesthesia. The tricky part for me is that I sometimes perceive more than one color as well as textures (thick liquid, metal, etc.), and the battery of tests didn’t account for this. Also, colors can cause emotional and even physical reactions, especially with certain hues or color combinations. A thing I wasn’t tested for was my association with physical sensations and pitches/frequencies of sound.
People who have this “sensory crossing” are impacted in how they perceive and process information, which includes learning. It makes the perceptual modality aspect of “learning styles” a bit more complex. However, it can also be used to one’s advantage (i.e. color-coding notes or using different highlighters, or associating different music, etc.); it is a very personalized process for each person.
Sometimes there can be modality interference; for example, what if a teacher’s concept map or feedback put things in colors that don’t match what the student’s perception is of those concepts? In my experience, this can be rather distracting! Ideally, the student would be able to adjust the colors to match his or her perceptions.
By the way, there seems to be a genetic link. My youngest daughter has strong synesthesia associations; however, they are different from mine as there is no link for what the actual associations will be.
Think you might experience synesthesia? If so, you can try one or more tests: http://synesthete.org/
I would love to hear what your results were!