James was this 5-year old boy whom I used to work with as a clinical intern.
I saw him again today, probably the first time since my graduation. He’s 7 now.
I remember how we hardly had a single session back then that we didn’t argue.
I remember this one day when he just kept crying the whole time. When I held his hand to the mat area, he started saying “No” (plus all other words in his vocabulary that pertained to negation and opposition) to everything I practically said, shrieking as he did so. I hadn’t even started with the session and already he wanted to leave. Suddenly he wasn’t in the mood. He faced the wall and buried his face in his hands. And wailed.
I didn’t expect to get anything from him from then on. But I had to keep trying.
I watched him closely. When he looked up at me, I tried to look behind his tears and right into his eyes, making genuine yet futile attempts to understand him. And then my lenses shifted — suddenly I saw his circumstance, his reality, his story. And at that point I realized how much I envied him. How much I envied all the other kids for that matter. Because of the normalcy of throwing a tantrum just because they’re tired, sleepy, hungry, and whatever else.
Well I also was tired, sleepy, hungry, plus a myriad of all other feelings.
A funny thought, but I wanted to likewise be equipped with that power to get away with anything right away.
Somehow I think all adults do. At least on certain days.
Today was one of those days for me.