In His Head

P1010358Imagine you are at your local pool.  You see your friend across the way, beckoning to you, then pointing to the snack bar.  Yes!  A snack.  So you look for the shortest distance to get there…through the pool.  Perfect!  A refreshing dip on your way to a treat.  You head to the water.

*Tweet!!!* A lifeguard blows a whistle at you and starts pointing.

“Shre fretrdtui!” she screams across the pool at you.

You pull up to a halt.  What did she say?  She’s still shouting it.  What do you do?

Probably don’t jump in.

But your friend is still beckoning.  What to do?


Now the lifeguard right next to you turns around and says to you, “Shrevv iteytrd, okay?”


Best not go in the water.

So you turn to go the long way around.

**Tweet!!  Tweet!!**

“Shre fretrdtui!” the lifeguard yells after you.  Yes, yes.  You didn’t get in.  You’re going the other way.


On your way, a third lifeguard stops you, grabs your arm and starts emphaticaly pointing to a wall.  “Shre fretrdtui!!!  Wjntrf xdferol aerwco,” she says and leads you over to the wall and starts to make you sit down.  But your friend…you need to get to your friend.  And why is this lifeguard trying to force you somewhere?  It’s all so confusing.

Your friend reaches you at that moment, because she had to get the whole way around the pool, too, and says something to the lifeguard, and you are let go.

Another lifeguard, a manager, comes over to the group of you and says to you, “Fhyrec jrts awtco.”  Your friend says something else, and they say a lot more you don’t understand.

Are you frustrated yet?  Do you know what you did?

You were running.  It had nothing to do with danger in the pool at all.

So you get your snack, and you go back to swimming.  Suddenly, the manager is back. He’s turning to your friend and clearly talking about you for a long time.

If it was you, would you have lost it yet?  Thrown something in frustration?  Yelled back?  Gotten fed up and left?

Well, that’s what happened to Soccer Boy at the pool today.  I can’t believe that he didn’t punch someone.  *I* was ready to punch someone.

It happened so suddenly, and I just couldn’t get around the pool to his side fast  enough.

I was so frustrated and angry and just so….exhausted by the whole thing.

I know what it looked like—a little boy, defiant, with a big smile on his face, laughing as he ran away.

But I know what it was—a really scared boy, not understanding, smiling in fear, laughing nervously, because he didn’t know what else to do.

I wanted to scoop him up and run away with him.

It’s no wonder these children test, and they shut down, and they hit or bite or scratch.  They probably feel lost a lot of the time.  They don’t follow fast transitions, fast talking. This was just one incident, one part of our day.  Soccer Boy does this many times a day.

And it didn’t stop there.  Out of kindness, the manager came over to me two more times.  Does he speak Spanish?  What?!  No.  Any other languages?  A little German.

All of a sudden, a German woman was there, ready to translate and explain.  Except I don’t need you to explain anything.  We are doing just fine.  Please just go away.

And she says, “Who is in charge of this child?  And you don’t speak his language?  You can’t even talk to him?  What kind of parent sends their child to another country like that?  Who does that to their child?”

Mama Bear was out in full then.  I am responsible.  I am his mama right now.  Of course I can talk to him; you interrupted.  I’m not even going to try to explain our life to you.  Please just go away.

But then she started to tell him AGAIN, this time in German, what he had done wrong, even though I had already told him.  I appreciate that she took the time to try to translate, and she even explained the deep water test in order to be in the section he was playing in, which I wouldn’t have been able to do so quickly.

But I just wanted them to all leave us ALONE.

I can’t imagine how Soccer Boy felt.

He is brave.  So very brave.  This little slip of a thing walks away from that incident with a smile and a shrug of his shoulders, and a leap into the pool again.

And whatever anyone else thinks, we communicate with him.  We have a life with him.  He brings us joy and laughter and we know him.  Little Man was present for part of that incident, and he was translating Soccer Boy’s body language to them.  Because he knows.P1010411

Right after that, I heard Little Man say to a friend, “No, I can’t play right now.  I want to be with my brother and help him.”  And so the three of us went off, and had a grand old time.

But he pulled back a bit.  Rightly so.  We retreated to our house and tried to watch a movie, but he was just too tired.  I put him to bed early, and he read his affirmation.

“Soccer Boy is kind.”

A genuine smile.  Shy.  Afraid to believe.  Surprised to see those words written.

But he is kind, and helpful, and he pays attention.  He is patient with us.  He listens and he learns so quickly.  The littlest things make him happy.

All you saw was a boy running around at the pool.  I saw a fragile spirit wanting to please.

I just want to wrap him up in my arms and snarl at anyone who gets too close.  He is mine; he was entrusted to me; he was laid on my heart’s doorstep.  I only have him for a short time.  And I want him present, not shut down because of others’ expectations.

So forgive my rudeness if I don’t tell you where we are and what we are doing and don’t ask you to come along.  I’m in the middle of building something I don’t really even understand myself.  It’s fragile, and it’s risky…but it’s important.

So very important.


5 thoughts on “In His Head

  1. arwen

    those lifeguards and their incessant whistles are enough to drive me mad, and i even know what they’re whistling about!

  2. Ali

    Wow! Thank You….

  3. Le Ann Dakake

    Wonderful perspective teaching!

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