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Caution: construction zone. Hardhats, please.

“Mommy, when I learn, I don’t always know specifically what I learn. I just know that I am now different from who I was when I woke up in the morning.”

Peyton’s response to me when I way too enthusiastically asked her what she learned about a Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG!) article she read yesterday. KAPOW! Put in my place. And very kindly, without an eye roll, she added, “You adults are too concerned with specifics. Us kids--we see and hear and feel a lot during the day. It’s non-stop building up in this little body.”


It’s been a challenging week at Camp Wilson, so Peyton’s words provided some much needed perspective. This has been a week of observing the kids take in their lives in very different ways. The foundational layering of our experiences (plus our genetic makeup) prompts us to react in different ways. What happens when our bodies/minds don’t let us completely understand the details around us--or we aren’t able to appropriately react to the scale of an issue? In Justin’s case, it can mean rage. An absolute, blinding rage. A rage so big, I found myself grabbing ahold of him, wrapping my arms around him tightly, speaking softly to him until the sobs of a spell broken were upon us. I had to remind him that just last week he had raced his bike 41 miles in headwinds to win first place--that he was tougher than the small broken toy that had prompted his debilitating anger.


I write about Justin because so often we shy away from the murkier elements of our lives. Social media enables so much curating--we edit our images and piece together a rosy existence for the world to see. And certainly mine, like yours, is full of roses, but there are thorny days, too. A rose wouldn’t be a rose without them. We are not perfect nor are we aiming to be. But, we are attempting to create an environment that allows the kids (and us) to build off of the hand we’ve been dealt.

For Justin and I, we come stock with a lot of anger. We have trigger points and the world sometimes seems overwhelming. Over time, I have learned to put mine to rest. It has taken a lot of new experiences to sharpen an ability to frame proportionate responses. Similar to learning how to ride bikes long distances, up hills in headwinds, I know that over time, Justin can also learn to navigate with less misery. It will not be tomorrow. Nor will it be next week. There is not a miracle pill to swallow. Instead, it is a lifelong layering of new experiences to replace the less than good. Peyton is correct: we have a lot of building up in here.

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