It is easy to be distracted by what you see, to hold your child when you see tears or to become stern when faced with a surly attitude. There is always more, though. Always. The truth is that navigating a child's emotional landscape is very much like walking through a corn maze. You can't see what lies ahead and don't know where you are going. You simply wander, corn stalks crunching underfoot, and trust that you will find your way. You hit dead ends and you feel trapped but you keep walking; trying to steer away from paths you've taken and find new directions that offer hope. It's supposed to be fun but, truthfully, it can be hard...frustrating...exhausting. Then, when you think you can't take the heat and the bugs and the scratchy corn stalks any longer, the path widens and you see the opening and you emerge into the fresh air. Then, your persepctive changes and the beauty of the maze as a whole is revealed. The sense of accomplishment is amazing and that is why you are willing to do it over and over again. This morning, Miguel told us that he wanted to spend his birthday alone. There was no drama, no burst of emotion. We asked if something was bothering him and he said that he'd just changed his mind about having a party. We could have walked away. We could have dismissed it as a mood. Believe me, we've done both of those in similar circumstances. Today was a good day, however. Today, we walked the maze and emerged better for it, astounded once again by his astute observations of the world and his insight. We will never stop wishing that we could protect him from pain, from the difficulty that lies ahead, from the challenge of being a boy aware of his many feelings. No, we never stop wishing. Instead, we learn to recognize and accept our limits as parents. We take comfort in knowing that he will not have to walk his path alone and we hope that he knows this too. He can't know, as we do, that he will emerge from all of this. He can't see what lies ahead and, while I can't see everything, I can see the path widening. This morning, I caught a glimpse of the man he might become and it was amazing. Yes...today was a good day.
The photograph above is an arial photograph taken of the 1999 corn maze at Sever's Corn Maze and Farm Market. You can check out pictures of their other mazes here.