Our little Belarusian visitor arrived at the weekend (through Friends of Chernobyl’s Children – check out these posts for the story of last year’s visit).
Last year I found the visit exhausting, challenging…and hugely rewarding; it pulled on every resource I had as a coach, a parent and as a human being. We saw a big difference in V. by the time the visit came to an end last year, but we’d heard since then her family circumstances changed dramatically and she is now in foster care. At only 8 years old, she has already had a lot to deal with in life and we weren’t sure what the implications would be for how she’d be with us when she returned on this year’s visit.
V is with the rest of the group of 11 children and 2 interpreters during weekdays for a programme of fun activities (and some basic healthcare with doctor, dentist, optician etc). But in the evenings and weekends we’re on our own with her. Her understanding of English is zero; our understanding of Belarusian is about 0.0002!
Our communication is entirely through body language, intonation and simple ‘presence’.
But I learned a lot from last year, and I’ve managed to ring fence the month that V. is with us, keeping it clear of all but a few coach calls and other commitments – apart from those for my other 3 kids of course. This is because I realised she needs my attention, my presence, and for me to ‘be’ rather than be distractedly busy and ‘doing’ all the time.
Actually, as I write this, I’m thinking “Doh! Surely my own kids just need that too Rachel! Or anyone else important in my life. And actually, it’s what I really want too – for me! When did it become the norm for me to be a human doing, rather than a human being?”
As a consequence of this shift in my focus this last week, there have been number of times I’ve dropped the ball on things I would normally be really ‘on’. Small things I’ve forgotten to do, or had to re-arrange/cancel. I’ve noticed that, whereas usually I would beat myself up or feel bad about it, I’ve been able to just let them go – and lo and behold, nothing dire has happened.
In fact it’s been the opposite, because by being very present, I seem to have had a really positive impact on the people I’ve come into contact with – I’ve helped people in a way that actually matters in the big scheme of things. And I feel more relaxed, choice-ful and contented.
I’m really curious now to find out how the rest of the month pans out – I wonder if I can continue to be a human being, rather than a human doing, and what will be the outcome if I am…