Awaiting Irene: 8-27-11

Day 1: Our ferry trip and drive across Long Island were blue sky perfect. By 6 PM the mighty Atlantic was surging with perfect swells for body and board surfers. Pint-size bathers were playing in the shallow puddles produced by the surge. The pause before the storm revealed an enchanting interlude of innocent children in colorful bathing suits paddling like ducklings while parents chatted and dogs romped. I snapped photos and wondered, is this enchanting moment worth the hours of worry ahead?

Sweet Empathy: Our daughter’s first separation from her new home was interesting. On the drive she told us that she was sad leaving her apartment-mate. “I’m worried that she will be lonely.” I suggested that her mate might be seeing her family too this weekend. “I’m texting her to find out.” Yes, she would see them. The news provided relief. Her concern showed a sweet and caring empathy, as well as her own sense of missing her friend and home. She has developed a deep bond with her mate, and her new life.

Flexibility Achieved: It was heartening to witness the transition from worry to joy once concerns about her friend abated. The shift was rapid. She began to percolate with anticipation about seeing her brother, his boyfriend, and the cousins and remained upbeat and playful straight through to bedtime. Being flexible is a watchword of the special needs world, often uttered by educators and therapists who strive to unhinge the rigid thinking and behavior of the students. At Riverview, our daughter’s boarding school, the Head of School inspired her students to “be flexible” so that they can learn, have friends and make the big transitions that a fulfilling life requires. By George, I think she’s got it. Our daughter has flex. And proud of her for it.

© Jill Edelman, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. 2011

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