Awhile back, I was talking with my therapist about a bright spot in my childhood. I was 9 or 10, maybe younger. Because one of my issues had been feeling invisible, it was so memorable…one of my mom’s boyfriends (yes plural but there were only a few) took an interest in me. A prior boyfriend of hers had done the opposite and I think this guy may have sensed that.
His name was Paul, and I remember one time he wanted to take me hiking. We first went downtown to the bakery (an incredibly rare occurrence) and I got to pick out any doughnut I wanted: I chose lemon filled covered in powdered sugar! Then we went for a drive, probably just to north Springfield or Perkinsville, but it seemed like another world.
Anyway, we had a pleasant little outing and I felt special. It was a welcome feeling. But of course my therapist asked me questions like, “did he touch you at all?” And “did you feel like it was a secret?”
I did not like that she said that, though I suppose it was reasonable for her to ask since I clearly have lots of issues. My point was, actually is, that every kid needs somebody, well, not just kids, everyone needs someone to be their light, their joy, their champion, their remedy…And yes, sometimes, it may look like “grooming” so adults who cultivate relationships with children should be mindful, transparent, appropriate, and responsible in their interactions. Because as Mr. Rogers tells us:
My point is that it feels good to have your world brightened by another person, and in turn, lighting up another’s persons world feels wonderful as well. To be the person that ignites a fire in someone can be intoxicating, to help someone grow and change is invigorating, and when you see the chain reaction that comes from it, it makes you feel powerful, competent, and alive.
That’s what I am trying to do these days with my books and in my professional and personal life, slowly but surely. My dear friend Michael and I had to part ways, but I find comfort in the light I brought to his life and the color he brought to mine. My close friend Laura passed away 8 years ago, and I try to be the authentic type of friend to others that she was to me-honest, flawed, human. And there are numerous children over the years who still cherish their outdoor adventures and fields trips and investigations with me. I am the auntie who always gives the coolest books and brings doughnut holes. I am the mom that thanks the teachers for their work with my son, even in high school, and I am the client who tells the plow guy “thank you” every time he has to clear the snow. I’m also the customer at the grocery store who walks her cart all the way back inside after shopping even though they have people who do that. I am trying my best to be “a rainbow in someone’s cloud” when I can…