Early this year, we came across Danny, a 5-year-old boy entertaining himself with some building blocks outside his flat. His grandma who was his care-giver told us that this was him at his best behaviour. She elaborated that it took a lot out of her to care for Danny because ever so often he would throw a ferocious tantrum for no rhyme or reason and he will be hitting anything and anyone in his way. Grandma was also concerned that Danny hardly spoke and when he did, it was hard to make out what he was saying. As she confided in us that her son (Danny’s father), was incarcerated, Danny started screaming and he calmed down only after she led him into the flat and offered him a drink.
Challenging behaviours from children are distress signals that their basic needs have not been met. So, we need to respond appropriately but frequently because it is just too distressing, we do our best to keep the child under control without eventually recognizing what he or she needed. Today, Danny is speaking in complete sentences; seldom does he throw a tantrum and Grandma reports that caring for him is a lot more manageable. For the past 8 months, through the generosity of The Lodge of Saint George No. 1152, Danny received the gift of discovery. The Lodge funded a phonics programme for 19 children which Danny participated and apart from discovering the joy of language, music and friendship, I think he discovered that he was capable and lovable.
3 weeks ago, at the end of the ceremonies she was hosting, Surinah, 18-years-old asked the audience for a few minutes of their attention before they left for the buffet table. She had written a note of thanks to a colleague and she wanted to read it out. She shared that she could not recognize herself now that she is a youth leader in the neighbourhood and no longer the rebellious teen who did not give a hoot about others or her community. “I admit that I can be a huge pain in the …. but I am thankful that you never gave up on me. Thank you for always being there even when I pushed you away.” When she was done, she passed the handwritten note to our colleague with a big hug.
While I was watching, I was reminded that we are all gifts to each other. Each of us can enrich another’s life in our own unique way and in turn be enriched by the encounter if not the relationship. This being the season of giving, it would do well to be a little mindful that with some thought we can impress on another that they are capable, lovable and loved.
Wishing one and all every blessing that the Christmas season brings.
“Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.” – Oren Arnold.