A few weeks ago we took Miles to visit a little school in our new town of Ojai called Grounded By Nature. If you're familiar with Jon Young's Coyote's Guide to Connecting to Nature, or Tom Brown Jr., then you'll have a rough idea of where we want to go with our children's education. As soon as we arrived, I fell in love. It's set way back on an 8-acre property, complete with organic farm and a yurt for doing lessons in. The director was charismatic and sweet, as were her two sun-kissed children. For the first ten minutes, it was heaven.
Then, by the little solar-pump pond, Miles was stung by a Bee, and fell into my arms in a heap of sorrow for the remainder of our hour there. I didn't get most of my questions answered and felt helpless in the moment to do anything but try to transform his experience. To be clear, what I mean by that is that I wanted to control it. I really wanted him to move through it so that I could rest assured that this would be the right place for him. The director's daughter harvested yarrow for me to chew up and blob onto his wound. Her son came forth with an offering of clay to draw out the poison, and his story of how he, too, had been brought to his knees by a sting the week prior. Nothing would console my boy. And my gut was doing flips over it.
We left, making apologetic faces and receiving their full sympathy, with a promise to return on parent meeting day to hand in our paperwork and prepare for the school season. In the interim, I researched educational programs, surrendered my ego around conventional academics, agreed with his Dad to continue homeschooling for now, to supplement the loose, playful, exploratory, outdooring, experiential curriculum, and decided that this is what we wanted for him-that it seemed a good match for what his values are and also his love of the natural world.
Two days before meeting day, M came down with the chickenpox. Sign, or obstacle to overcome? My feverish analytics kicked in full force. Having passed on this vaccination and nearly all others, I was glad to see it arrive, as it offered insurance that he'd move through it at an age considered safe on the immune system and one hundred percent immunity from the virus in the future (as opposed to the 80-85% the vac provides, or so I've read). But it meant that he woudn't be able to come to the meeting with me, and wouldn't be able to attend the rapidly approaching first day of school until......"the last scab falls off".
Enter second stage control issues. He won't get to start with his classmates. What if he doesn't feel part of the group as everyone else does? WHAT IF HE FEELS LIKE AN OUTSIDER? What if, what if, what if?
It gets better. I'd sent an email to the director the day the blisters appeared, to let her know that I'd be coming alone and that Miles indeed had the pox and were there any policies about contagiousness I should consider before driving two and a half hours to sit in on the meeting. She didn't get it, and so I phoned about twenty minutes out of town to check in and her response was that Oh, shoot, hmmm, dang, I should probably just drop off my paperwork and check, so that everyone else wouldn't have to worry about the satellite possibility of it creeping toward them. I caught her off-guard and then screwed myself. I agreed.
Heightened anxiety and confusion set in.
In that moment, I no longer knew what I needed, I sacrificed my needs to take care of others, I couldn't determine and ask for another solution-such as sitting way out on the sidelines or hanging around town to talk to her afterwards. When I walked away from the sweet circle of parents and children, having humbly slipped my papers under a grinding stone rock, I felt it hit me. I felt sad, angry, powerless. I sat in tears on the dirt road in a line of empty cars losing my shit.
My children had been in my mother's care back in the valley since six-thirty a.m. at a time when I really felt I should be with them. It was a truly frustrating experience and I couldn't let go. I gripped my big feelings like the inside of a boxing glove: I couldn't trust that we'd made the right decision without receiving their presentation. I couldn't trust that he would feel safe among the other children and families without observing them a little bit. It was all about me, and far less about Miles. Kids trust in the best of ways. Why can't I?
All I could do was shuffle to the local coffee roasters joint (because espresso and anxiety go so well together, right?) and sit in the park with a bagel. I came to a pivotal place, where my own trigger-happy immune inhibitors implored me to turn it around. That this was just Another Lesson in Letting Go. That was it-this is what I do. I talk about living in Trust and here I was sitting in it's rival: Fear. I had to make a choice.
My baby turns six tomorrow and I heard clearly as I walked back toward my car, texting a friend from my infant stage of clarity, that I am being asked to (crocodile tears as I write) let him go off into this new realm- to learn to ask for help from others, to find his way, to shine his light, to fail, and to succeed. The chickenpox cleanse, and a new school in a new town is a rite of passage for him. Yet I've failed to see, until now, that it's a rite of passage for me, too.
I got in my car and drove home to my babes. Later that day, the director was extremely apologetic about not helping me determine what it was I needed that day, and she dazzled me with her expert resolution skills- a bit of hand-holding thrown in. But I don't know that I even needed it. I have everything I need to begin, and my healing and transformation has always, and will always, require me to release my fear and take risks.
Coming back to Trust, always feels like coming Home.
Oh, and Bee? That little busy gal simply teaches us all about how to be part of a real community- working together, as a group.
I'm ready now. In order for my pup to grow strong, build immunity, find his community, and come to peace with her medicine, I've got to release my grasp on the only way I've ever known him.
Had I been looking, I coulda seen it comin' from a mile away.