Monday, July 18, 2005

A walk with Hanna

I recently find myself with a great deal more time on my hands. Rather than deluge this community with scads of insightful arguments or theses, I have found it to be an excellent opportunity to spend more time with my three, growing, wonderfully high maintenance children.

My ten year old middle daughter has extreme ADHD and some OCD. Surrounded by a thirteen year old sister, with all the wonderful issues that come with that age, and a two and a half year old sister, who demands a lot of time and distraction to prevent her from romping about on the front yard buck naked, my ten year old often has to make the best of it. We have discovered that she does much better if she has uninterrupted periods of undivided attention, but she cannot be penciled into a specific time block.

So, I have begun the habit of taking walks with her in the evening, armed with the digital camera. Like many children with focus problems, a gadget that requires hand eye coordination often brings her into hyper focus, and she is capable of producing some marvelous results. We roam about the neighborhood, taking pictures of whatever catches her eye. Usually, we each take a picture or two (or possibly eight or nine) of the same thing, and then spend some time discussing how we see it from different points of view. Then we work together to determine which shots speak to both of us and she crops and resizes them.

Originally an attempt to help her burn off some excess energy before bedtime routines, the walks have taken on a much larger significance for both of us. Yes, she still bounces and leaps from photo op to photo op. Yes, she still talks incessantly as she zeros in on the shot she wants. Yes, she still fidgits and squirms until she falls off the computer chair at predictable intervals. But she has a very perceptive outlook on what she sees and is capable of expressing that verbally and visually with a calm grace that belies her constantly racing brain.

Her Sunday School teacher once told me that she was such a "distraction," the other children weren’t able to learn. This is the child who asks questions like: "Can God skateboard?" "Why do I have so much trouble getting along with people who are just like me?" "Did the Bible people hatch from Daddies like sea horses do?"(A follow-up question to why isn’t God a Mommy) "When everything is over, does it always begin again, or is there ever a time just to rest?" There is no end to her questions.

I often wonder about my daughter in the same way I wonder about God. Why is she seen as a "problem" to be addressed rather than treasured for the incredible, creative vibrant child she is? Why does my understanding of a God of love and grace seem so threatening and wrong to those whose understanding of God is of power and fear. The things which are of the most importance to us are perhaps also the most subjective. And they take on an importance to our self understanding that shapes us in self fulfilling ways and to often blinds us to the equally valid subjectivity of others. My daughter doesn’t really have that problem yet; one advantage of perpetual motion is that you never become totally vested in one way of thinking or being. My daughter helps me understand what it is truly like to live in the tension of being in two kingdoms. And she thrives in it!

I know its very subjective, but I think my daughter’s pictures are quite lovely. If you are so inclined, please see for yourself:

a walk with Hanna

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