Last night, during a 45 minute sit, the idea that I have lived all my life in boxes that were like the shell-homes of sea creatures who scavenge used shells came to mind. None of the shells fit particularly well, some were awful fits, but I have been so long with these make-do definitions of myself that I no longer remember what it is to be comfortable, to be real. I don’t really know who I am. I cannot define myself and I am baffled to explain how others see me. I could have said this, realized this years ago but I would have then blamed my parents, my mother specifically for trying to force me into roles that I was not made to play and for never supporting those roles which were intrinsic to me. Perhaps that is true for the earliest boxes but I need to claim responsibility for many, many of the ill-shaped definitions of myself. I have inhabited shells of so many sizes and shapes when I could have designed my own. I have not defined myself in my own terms for so long that I have no idea where to start.

I am both eager and scared to leave my ill-fitting boxes behind.

Julia will be fit in no existing box. We are studying for her social studies test tomorrow. The topics are the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, the Amendments, Manifest Destiny, acquiring the west, wars with Mexico, treaties with Britain and the Trail of Tears. She has memorized the answers to about 40 multiple choice questions. I am not sure how much she understands. Then again, what did I understand about unreasonable search and seizure and due process in fifth grade? She is compliant about the work of memorization that we’ve been doing all weekend and again today. If she was a typical child, I would not question the importance of the learning. I would figure, I did figure with Cheshire, that she would understand in time and the fifth grade test was a training ground for when her understanding would mature and she was able to respond to questions from understanding and not memorization. So, should I be questioning this with Julia? I do.

Sitting at IDS during Julia’s therapy time. Another child, a girl at least as old as Julia, perhaps a bit older, comes out to see her mom. She is teary. She hates group. She does not want to participate with the other kids. There is one kids she particularly dislikes (she doesn’t say who). Her mother calms her down and eventually she goes to talk to the people at the front desk. She has returned to calm and she can explain her unhappiness to her therapist.

I compare this girl’s behavior to Julia’s and wonder if Julia has the awareness to do what the girl did. I don’t think so. Not now at least.

We are working on math word problems. I feel like I’ve been here before. We worked on the easiest word problems before she had all of her facts. Now she has her facts but figuring out what operation to use for a problem is still challenging. We work slowly through each one. Ex.: J has 6 bracelets. B has 4 bracelets. They put them together in a bag. How many bracelets are in the bag. We draw it out. We use little cubes. Deciding on addition is far from automatic. Still, she does know that 6 + 4 = 10. If we can get to an operation, she can do it.

I worry. That I see a limit. I worried that she would never count. Never add. I might learn from that.

I would like to rid myself of worry, of constantly casting into the future. I cannot see any use for it. Especially with Julia.

Especially with me.