The Age of Communication
ON AN AVERAGE DAY your brain is occupied with at least five pressing thoughts that you want to remember and, hopefully, deal with. Yesterday it was getting some of the books I have been working on completed. At least one would be good. It took seeing the 11pm news to remind me again that in the larger picture there are people with much greater problems, people are killing each other, and a lot of the shooting and killing is involving the very young. I look at the faces of those who made it out, the shock, the overwhelming grief and know that an entire generation of kids are going to go out into the world as scarred adults.
How can we be the Age of Communication and fail to truly engage? How connected could we possibly be when we have to admit we 'had no clue' what just made the news was going to happen. No clue. None.
Like being called by the police last week to be told that the minx in my life had been booted off University grounds for pulling the stunt of calling Security and telling them she had two missing children.
They are deciding if she can return because it is likely she will be a repeat offender as she was born with Down Syndrome, and though she says she knows the rules, she is constantly challenging them, and we are constantly engaging in the same conversation: Don't do this; don't do that; and fiction is not the same as real life ~ ever. Got it? She sticks her tongue to the side of her cheek and nods.
Last week I changed gear and asked her if she was lonely at lunch, because although everyone knows who she is ~ she is not inclined to acknowledge those of her own age. And the honest answer is probably to be found within the question. But when she deigned to respond, the only acknowledgement for why she did what she did (two days running, the first day Security could not locate her because she had left the phone) was because she was bored. This line of questioning had her put her two hands to her mouth and giggle.
She is grounded not only from University but from the internet as well at this juncture. But you cannot be in constant punishment mode because 1: it is not sustainable; 2: it really doesn't move any thing forward. Rather, it opens the chasm for misunderstanding even wider ~ our ability to be open with each other narrowing with each confrontation, like a clogged artery that finally stops the heart.
Isn't it a tragedy that we should only learn there is a problem when the deed has been done and not before? Tomorrow there will be another meeting regarding another 'violation' with another series of adults. And the only thing I can tell her before it happens is that in life we can love people truly, deeply, madly, but it does not mean they have to love us back ~ and although it is deeply painful, we have to be all right with that. We have to move on.
I hope the message got through, but I know that I will have to have this conversation with her again. And maybe ten more times after that.