Sunday, 8 March 2015


Last night Owen and I had a heart to heart. He is homesick. He misses his room, his penguins, his Nerf guns. He misses his old school, Goodwin learning Centre, and he misses his extended family. He was really hoping we would be going home in less than 30 days not over 100.

Owen getting what he wants- a G burger
As a mom it is really hard to know that your child is unhappy. Your first instinct is to fix it- well my first instinct is, some people would cuddle and comfort, but I go into problem solving mode. Maybe I could buy him a ticket and send him home with his aunt Ceilidh; he could stay with my mom until we got back....

But the reality is in life is that you don't always get to do or be where you want. When I went to university I did not get into my first choice of university, but I still went. It wasn't where I wanted to be or studying what I wanted to, but I knew I had to go. When I took my first job out of college it was not what I wanted to be doing but I knew it was a stepping stone. Our first house was a teeny tiny little place where you had to duck to get into bed because the ceiling was so low. Definitely not what we wanted, but what we could afford.

Learning is something that needs to be processed and then consolidated into your worldview. This is pretty hard to do when you are ten going on eleven. Even adults don't always learn from their experiences. Some people just float through life never getting much past the adolescent development stage. Some families allow their children to stay in these childlike stages by coddling them through their 20's, housing them through their 30's and then wondering why they have a child(ren) who is so dependent. As humans we have to experience failure, loss, disappointment, because we need to build the skills to regroup, reframe and readjust to what is. Shielding people from life’s disappointments may seem kind but in reality we are stunting their growth.

At the Port yesterday
Life is full of hard lessons. You may have to work at McDonald's with a degree, you may have to live in a basement apartment because that is what you can afford, you might not be able to buy the flat screen TV because you don't have the money. However by experiencing lack you build  resilience and create strategies to get what you want based on your own skills not on people bailing you out.

The other hard part about learning is that it can take a very long time to interpret and apply what you learned from an experience. Right now Owen can't see what he is learning because he is too close to it. In adult learning we talk about reflection on action and reflection in action. One happens in the future and one happens in the moment. It is much easier to look at the past and learn from it than to be mindfully drawing your attention to what you are learning in the moment.  I am confident that Owen will be able to reflect back on this time and see how strong he was, how he adapted to a new school, to being different and to going without and learn from it. It just is not going to happen today or tomorrow, it may not even happen this year. But as we help Owen work through this learning experience he will find the lessons.

Owen embracing what is
The other reason Owen is having a hard time is because Owen’s emotional compass is pointed towards home.

In Buddhism the notion of being fully present (mindful) in the moment is very important. You can’t really experience a rainbow if you are thinking about what you need to do next. I have noticed this in taking photos. I am so busy trying to get a great shot I am not really experiencing what I am seeing. Owen is having a hard time appreciating Grenada because his heart and his thoughts are somewhere else.

My job is not to give in and send him home, which makes everyone happy but which teaches a dangerous lesson. It is instead to help him develop the skills to be fully present in the beauty of the moment he is in… not the moment he wishes he was in.

Even with this realization of what I need to do, it doesn’t make it any less hard on my heart knowing that he is homesick. There is no Band-Aid for a heart longing for home.

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