I remember when my friend Diane got married, she told me she wanted to remember "to turn." She was talking about how we so frequently turn away from the one we love: turn our back, turn our eyes, turn our attention from, turn away figuratively. What she hoped to remember was to negate that impulse and turn toward, especially when she most wanted to turn from. So at their wedding they sang the old Shaker hymn Simple Gifts:
to turn, turn, will be our delight
'til turning, turning, we'll come round right.
I have thought about this notion many times over the years and, in light of my stubborn streak, have been challenged to turn toward Ben, to walk back into the room, reach out and touch him mid-fight etc. It's a helpful idea, really.
Now that I am the parent of a 2 1/2 year old, I am thinking about turning again. What really shouldn't be that surprising but of course is, is that during Silas's tantrums, freak outs, peeing-in-pants indecisiveness, utter irrationality, my kneeling down and turning toward him is what reels him in and calms him down.
What makes this fact so hard, is that the moments he needs me to turn toward him are the moments I most want to stomp on him and burst into threats (my least effective to date being when he defiantly kicked the back of the seat in the car AGAIN, and being infuriated and beside myself I yelled "S T OP KICKING THE SEAT or I will have to BLAST YOUR FACE OFF WITH WIND!" at which moment I rolled down all the windows in the car. I mean the thing that come out in moments of desperation... )
This morning was spattered with breakdowns, the final one culminating in Silas's refusing Ben, screaming only for Mommy, being too worked up to make it to the bathroom, then finally locking himself in there sobbing with wet pants. It was one of the moments swallowed my natural impatience and turned. I looked him full in the face and remembered he is a tiny person who has only been on the planet for 2 years; he doesn't know how to calm himself down. He doesn't know a lot of things. And he is counting on Ben and me -- to come to him, to help him, to turn to him. And so in that tiny moment of grace, I held out my hands. And he immediately leaned in.