My mother came to live with us for the last two years of her life. She had profound dementia and was medically fragile, requiring in-home hospice services for the last 18 months of her life.
She and I had always been very close. Despite our occasional ups and down, we were fond of each other and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company. Ours was the kind of relationship that had never been dependent on physical proximity. There were times where we communicated almost daily and times where we didn’t.
As the dementia progressed, several things occurred. She became less and less able to recall recent events or conversations, which among other things, created an almost childlike delight in her daily life. For her, everything was new, so if it was something she enjoyed, she was delighted each time, as if it was the first time! “Why, it’s been years since I’ve had corn on the cob!” she would exclaim...
Conversation in my office last week, between an awesome, magical, athletically gifted 12-year-old boy, his Mom and me.
Mom: Everything was going really well until last night, when we spent most of the evening in Urgent Care.
Me: Wow! What happened?
Mom (looking at her son): Bike accident!
Me to 12 yo (observing no bandages, no outward signs of injury): Awww!! Are you ok?
12 yo (squirms and nods, studying the floor)
Mom: He cut open his scrotum … there was blood everywhere!
Me: Ouch!! What happened?
12 yo: Well I was on a path and I fell off the bike.
Mom to me: Now it’s a “path!” Last night on the way to urgent care, it was a curb …he hit a curb!
Me (smiling at him): A path?
12 yo: Well … actually it was stairs!
Me: Hmmmm! Open stairs or a stairwell?
12 yo: A stairwell.
Me: Wow! What were you thinking?
What are children saying when they “act out”?
A mom brought her five year old son to see me. He had been getting into trouble at school and was difficult at home. They sat on the sofa … he couldn’t keep his hands off her and she was clearly irritated.
At one point, I asked him: “What do you know?” He sat bolt upright and appeared to stop breathing. His eyes locked into mine. He said: “Mikey (her boyfriend) is going to move in with us, and then he’s going to leave and Mommy’s going to cry.” She burst into tears.
A week later she called to tell me that his “naughty” behaviors had all but disappeared, and, that she had broken up with her boyfriend!
Tool: Ask a question!
The next time your child gets into...
I had a skype session recently with a 7-year old boy and his father. The boy had been getting into trouble at school and at home, and his dad was at his wits’ end! He didn’t know what to do anymore. He was exhausted.
The two of them were together in a room, sitting in chairs next to each other, behind a table. Or rather, the Dad was sitting upright in his chair and the boy was upside down in his … legs and feet waving in the air, head nowhere to be seen! The Dad said to him in a part-stern part-begging voice … “Joey, you need to sit up … you’re not being polite.”
I quickly reassured the Dad that it was fine with me for his son to choose how to sit in the session. His dad looked relieved. A little arm appeared and waved at me!
I asked Dad what was going on, and, as he told me about his son’s behaviors, the legs and arm continued to flail in the air.
Then, I asked the boy if I could ask him a...
I took my first Foundation class eight years ago. That class changed everything for me. It turned my world upside down. It created space for me that hadn’t been available before. I was different. I was happier. I actually liked myself a little! And I noticed that people wanted to be around me, more than before.
The day after that class, members of my family and extended family came to our house for a holiday celebration. They stayed for three days. We had been estranged from each other for many years, and this was the first time in a very long time that we occupied the same physical space.
It was incredible!
We enjoyed each other’s company. We had conversations with each other we hadn’t dared dream about. Old wounds healed. The past lost its significance. And, we had fun together.
And, it happened without upset, without drama.
It was so different.
Since that first class, I’ve taken many Foundation classes and facilitated even more. What I love...