On resiliency

On Resiliency

"The human capacity for burden is like bamboo~far more flexible than you'd ever believe at first glance."  - Jodi Picoult

'If your heart is broken, make art with the pieces."  - Shane Koyczon

"Childhood is a training ground for resiliency.  But you need to get out of the way."  - Grandma Bean

The other day my Grand-daughter, Cici, was telling me about a terrible disappointment that she had experienced which broke her heart (and mine, for her.)  She had a solo narrative part in her Choir recital that she had been rehearsing for months.  The night of the recital something went wrong and they skipped over her part.  She told me the next day that her eyes were sore from crying.  It got me to thinking about resiliency and how important it is in our lives, and how vital it is to learn when we are children. 

The dictionary defines resiliency as:

1.         The ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.
2.         The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

I've always been fascinated by this subject and why some of us bounce back while others break from the bending.  When my children were young I remember a time when something went terribly wrong for Traci and I had trouble dealing with the pain she was experiencing.  It was excruciating to watch my daughter suffer and I would have done anything to take away her pain.  Then someone in my life, who was very wise, gave me some advice which I have never forgotten.  She told me that my children's pain was THEIR pain, not mine and that no matter how much it hurt me to see them suffer, I had to get out of the way.   "Indeed," she told me, "You have no RIGHT to try to take it away.  It is not your business.  This is how they will become resilient and to be able to move on through pain when you are no longer around.  Guide, but do not take away!" 

Forever after, I allowed my children to experience their own disappointments.  When my daughter was a teen-ager, I would get her to make lists after a disappointment or a hurt.  She wrote down her feelings about the experience and what was the best and the worst things that could result from it.  Invariably something would happen later to make her glad she had had that particular disappointment. It helped her to identify her emotions and later she could see how it all worked out for the best.

These were very necessary lessons for my child and the training ground for adult problems.   After marrying and trying for many years to conceive, Traci became pregnant. She and Brad had about a week to experience their happiness when it became apparent that she had suffered a tubal pregnancy and they lost the child they had wanted so badly.  My heart broke for her, but I knew that she would ultimately be okay, because she had learned the resilient lesson when she was young.  The loss of that baby put into motion the events that later resulted in the birth of her two beautiful girls, Cailin and Colbie, who none of us can even imagine our lives without.

I think of my Father's generation - A child of the Depression, and then a World War, my father had a brutal childhood, full of deprivation and even neglect.  He told me a story of how when he was about eight, he was pulling a wagon full of winter supplies home to the homestead.  During the trip, the kerosene that they needed for lighting spilled onto the flour they would use for their bread....maybe the only food they would have for the long winter. There was no money to buy more, so they had to live on Kerosene-flavored bread for the whole winter.  The resilience that he developed through these years made it possible for him to move on and raise a family of his own.  When he spoke about these experiences later, he often related them with humor.  (In fact, I think it was his sense of humor that allowed him to survive his childhood.)

I am certainly not suggesting that our children should suffer deprivation to learn resiliency, but I fear that we are so busy absorbing our children's pain that we are raising a generation of children that do not know how to cope without us.

So in this vein, I have put together a little quiz to determine how resilient you are.

1.  Your plans for the evening fall through.  You:
a.         Pour a glass of wine and sit down with a good book.
b.         Pour a bottle of wine into a vase.  Drink the wine and then sob quietly into a book.

2.  Your babysitter develops Norovirus on a day you had planned to shop.  You:
a.         Pack up the kids and go for a picnic in the park.
b.         Drop the children off on your babysitter's doorstep with a roll of toilet paper and a bucket, and then head for H&M.

3.  You are laid off from a job you just started a week ago.  You:
a.         Cry a little, eat a carton of Baskin Robbins Pistachio Almond Ice Cream, go home and revamp your resume.  Then you feed your children and put them to bed.
b.         Ugly cry, stop at the liquor store and pick up a Box O' Wine, go home and throw a tin of soup and a can-opener at your children, go to your room, drink your Box O' Wine and then drunk text all your friends until morning.

4.  Your child doesn't get accepted on to the Cheerleading Squad after she has told you that her life will be ruined if she is rejected.  You:
a.         Feed her a tub of Baskin Robbins Pistachio Almond Ice Cream, dry her tears, and keeping your cool, matter of factly assure her that better things await.
b.         Immediately put a contract out on the Bee-atch that is in charge of the squad because she obviously does not recognize real talent when she sees it.

Now if you answered mostly A's, then you are probably pretty resilient.  If however, you answered mostly B's, well don't worry  At one time in my life I answered mostly B's, and well, my children turned out to be pretty resilient in spite of it. (Um....or maybe BECAUSE of it)  Oh well, never mind. 

- Grandma Bean

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