Over the years my husband has calmly sat and played games with our children for hours with no thought of his “to-do” list. Lost in a game of front-yard football, he did not see the grass that had gone to seed or the leaves that needed raking.
I, on the other hand, struggled to live in the moment as I dressed Barbies, diapered baby dolls, rang up imaginary groceries on plastic cash registers or sipped watery tea in miniature porcelain cups. My hands might have been playing but my mind was off making lists of groceries to buy, meals to cook, chores to be done.
He was, some would say, “in touch with his inner child.” That ability to hear one’s inner child, the being of one’s youth – still housed in our now adult selves. To let it out to play every once in a while.
And I was not.
Or so I thought until this morning when I felt these past two weeks of pain, frustration and crushing heartache come smashing into me and rise up out of me in a scream, a sob, a soft whimper and finally a stomping foot. My inner child did not want to play. It wanted to cry out. It wanted to show me - show anyone who would pay attention - the traumatic view from down there.
So it showed me the children of Sandy Hook Elementary, fear on their faces, fright in their hearts, blood drumming in their ears – perhaps for the last time – as they faced evil in the place they once saw as a haven of safety and learning. It showed me the empty vessels, the small lifeless bodies – their spirits now flying free of pain and horror – lying about on the cold linoleum school floor. I wondered on their behalf, “Why?” It showed me the small survivors, now afraid to go to back to school, squeezing loveys and staring off into space trying to shut out the terror as the adult world argues on about rights and freedom, wants and needs, weapons and what-ifs.
And as if that was not enough, it showed me Russia’s parent-less children - the castaways, the not-so-special special needs children and the unwanted orphans - who up until this past Thursday had the possibility of new love and new lives in American families waiting to adopt them. Now the photos of their new families, the toys and clothes purchased and delivered to them during pre-adoption trips and - most especially - the timid feelings they had perhaps allowed to grow in their delicate and damaged hearts must all be swept aside. Politics has gotten in the way, and they cannot have the better life that they most need. Ignorant words meant to comfort them – “Yes I know those people promised they would be back soon to take you home to American, but they won’t be. We will find you another family.” – should not be even be uttered.
Yes, I think I do know my inner child. I think now perhaps I have always known it, but didn’t recognize it. Heard its small voice speak to me. Seen it lay out the pain and heartache of our youngest generation.
No, I may not be able to fully set aside the adult world of dishes and cooking, family administration and yard work as I play a child’s game, but I most certainly can set aside the ultimate adult game – politics - to feel the love and pain of a child’s world. I only wish our world leaders could do the same. Our children, inner and outer, are counting on us.