The New Year begins quietly. I'm getting better, slowly. I'm blowing my nose less often. Coughing less harshly. I feel a little more ambitious and a little more like being part of the world. It wasn't such a bad thing to be pulled away from the world a little bit, at the end of the year, to rest and to think. After both experiences with the Ballet, I needed time to think about who I am, how I fit in the world, and the tasks set before me. The responsibility of having a voice has never seemed clearer to me.
This was made more so yesterday. Mike and Ruby dropped by for an hour in the afternoon. It was a surprise visit, but a delightful surprise at that. I keep a few toys and puzzles here for her just in case. I asked Ruby if she'd like to do a puzzle together and she nodded happily. So I set it up and we began work. Joe and Mike were talking in the kitchen, Ruby and I were working at my desk.
Ruby and I have always talked. But our chats have mostly been me asking a question and she answering 'um, yes' or 'um, no'. This was somehow different, this was our first conversation. A back and forth. She initiating some topics, me initiating others. I'd like to tell you about two conversations - one germane to this post, one just for fun.
"Why do you put those cards up there," she asked pointing to our display of Christmas cards.
"We put them up so we can enjoy looking at them," I said.
"Oh," she said, satisfied.
"Do you like them," I asked.
"Who gave you that one," she asked pointing to a stark and beautiful card, a winter scene with a man walking alone on a snowy field with his dog.
"My Mom and Dad," I said.
She looked at me wide eye'd and said, "Who?"
"My Mom and Dad," I said again.
"You have a Mom and Dad," she said with, almost, disbelief.
"I do," I said.
"Wow," she said. I don't know exactly what she was thinking but she looked like she was trying to calculate the age of the universe.
More on point:
"Did you have a good time with your cousins?"
"Um, Yes," she said.
"That's good," I said.
She paused, lowered her voice and said, "Ashton hits me sometimes."
I saw every shade of red that it's possible to see, but stayed calm, "When you're playing?"
"When he gets mad."
"What do you do when he hits you?"
"I run away from him."
"I tell him to stop."
"Good girl, what do you do if he doesn't stop," I said.
She shrugged her shoulders and said, "I don't know."
I said, "Well, think about it. What could you do?"
She said, "What would you do?"
I said, "I'll tell you after you think of something else to do."
She thought and said, "I could tell his mom, she doesn't like him hitting."
I gave her a hug and said, "Wow, that's exactly what I would do too."
Ruby will always be her first, her best, advocate. She will need her parents, she will need teachers, she will need other adults along the way. But she needed to learn early that it is her voice that needs to be heard, her thoughts that needed to be honoured, that she has the capacity to figure it out for herself. It would have been so easy, and I so wanted, to start telling her about how wrong hitting was (as if anyone who has been hit didn't know) how she needed to tell him and then tell someone else. But she knew these things too, she didn't really know she knew them, but I did. I know that inside her, inside this three year old girl, is the capacity to think, reason and solve the problems life sets out in front of her.
For me, this is the year of Voice.
Practice using it.
Practice hearing it.