How is it that children see things so much clearer than we do sometimes? Perhaps it is because their brains aren’t as cluttered with all of the crap we adults tend to carry around. We underestimate their ability to comprehend, process and understand what we deem to be “adult information” and we often overlook how tuned-in they really are.
Three summers ago when I moved back to Ohio from the southwest and began my job search, I thought FOR SURE I had stumbled upon or been led to the perfect job for me. It all came about so easily and so quickly and I pridefully thought to myself: This is really going to work out much better than even I had planned. The job was near Cleveland, the pay was great, the company seemed solid and well-established, and the work was creative & diverse. The HR Director had even used these words: “We really think we have a good fit here” while referring to me as a candidate for the position. All 4 of my interviews with the various “suits” had gone well and I felt fairly confident that this thing was all sewn up.
I’m sure you can tell where I am going with this by now… I didn’t get the job.
The rejection letter came, a charming form of correspondence with which I would later become very familiar… and I came unglued. I mean REALLY unglued. Unfortunately, my then 12 year-old nephew, Cameron, was at the house at the time.
I should mention that for about 6 or 7 years now I have struggled with depression and anxiety… and I was in a bit of a fragile state of mind at this particular time anyway, so this letter was the last straw. In an attempt to protect the innocent as well as whatever is left of my credibility with whoever may be reading this, I won’t go into detail about HOW I came unglued. Let’s just say that the wheels pretty much flew totally OFF my wagon.
My mom and dad tried comforting me, all the while my nephew is in the other room, hearing terrible things spew forth from my mouth as I am screaming and sobbing and raging about all sorts of things that I’m pretty sure were not even remotely related to this “You Suck” letter. And I’m ashamed to admit it, but Cameron overheard things that no child should ever have to hear from an adult whom they love. Scary things.
A few days later, when I had gained some composure and perspective, in addition to a refill of my medication… it’s OK you can laugh at that… I took Cameron out to lunch, just the two of us, and I apologized to him and I asked if he had ANY questions he wanted to ask me about what he’d heard me say that day. Cameron is an extremely bright and mature child, therefore nothing was off-limits. I wanted him to know that it was ALL out on the table in front of us. He expressed his feelings of sadness and concern that I was so upset, but I believe he genuinely understood that everything was going to be OK… that I was going to be OK.
I wish that at the time, I had had the confidence in myself that my nephew had in me.
Fast forward 10 months.
It is 5:30 p.m. on a weekday. I am home from work and I pull my new car into the driveway of my house. Because my family has practically established a 2-block commune in our little town of Minerva, it is quite the norm for a stray child to appear out of nowhere with a hug and a bright “Hi Aunt JoJo!” And on this particular day… it was Cameron.
He gave me a huge bear hug and asked how my day was. I hugged him back, locked my car, gathered up my things and started toward my parent’s house to say hello. But Cameron stopped me. He put his little arm around my waist and turned me to face my house. And he said, verbatim: “Look at you now, Aunt JoJo. Look at how far you’ve come.” At first I thought he was just being silly and sarcastic and I smiled and hugged him again. But since I was not completely certain what he meant by that, while we were still hugging one another, I asked him: “What exactly are you talking about, Cameron?”
He lifted his chin up to meet my gaze and he said to me: “Your car. Your house. Your job. (And he nodded in the direction of each of those things) Look at all you have now. And to think that just a few months ago you wanted to give up.”
I was speechless. I started to cry. I squeezed him tighter and I cried harder. All I could do was nod in affirmation. At that point in time I was so overcome with emotion, that his small 4-foot-something frame was supporting ME. I held onto him for dear life and I have never felt a bigger knot in my throat.
5 thoughts on “Out of the Mouths of Babes”
What a treasure he is. Really how fantastic. Glad to hear that all is going well. I have struggle with those issues also and it is so difficult because usually no one else understands.
Thanks Linda, he is a treasure. He just turned 16 and he continues to be. He is wise beyond his years and is so far resilient to the “tough stuff” he has had to deal with in his life. I am so proud of him and continue to be amazed by him. I think he was my angel on that day (both of them, actually, the dark day and the bright day 10 months later).
I’m sorry you also struggle with this too. I hope things are currently going well for you with a good support system and doctor. Know that you are not alone and that you are understood far more than you probably realize 🙂 Thank you for your comment 🙂
In reading this I think the knot you had in your throat has come to visit mine. Touching and poignant.
I’ve never dealt with depression much. Sure, I’ve had my down days, but this week, I think I am dealing with it. I had a hard blow that I swore would never happen to me albeit to myself. Last Semester, when I greeted the secretary, I mentioned something, and she said “Well, at least you didn’t forget you had class on the first day of school.” Four months later, it happened. I always have taught at this school on Tuesday/Thursdays. I’ve worked here around 9.5 years. I am scheduled at another school on Monday/Wednesdays. I was having a very good day when I noticed I had a message on my phone. I listened to it, and my heart dropped. The school had scheduled me for the exact same time as the other school. Here I was teaching a class, while a class across town was waiting for me. I felt horrible. I had to pull it together, and teach the class in front of me and try to forget my predicament for the next hour and fifteen minutes. On a bright note, my bosses were very forgiving. I’ve worked there so long they knew that something big had to have happened for me not to have been there. I lost my contract hours for this semester, but I have been promised to have 2 classes next semester. I’ve still been down since Monday night. The only thing that has made me happy has been playing and being with my little 2.5 year old. I’ve struggled with aches and pains I never have, and just tired and sad. It’s been a struggle to wade through all that. Needless to say, I’ve hung out with Zach any chance I get. Thanks for letting me ramble 🙂
I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been struggling Danielle. It will get easier. It’s great that you have such forgiving bosses and that you have the joy of Zachary to keep you going even through those dark days. Thank you for sharing and I wish you all the best this semester. 🙂