Love Necklace

"Rather than seeing anger and attack, it is always possible for us to recognize a call for help and to answer with love." Jerry Jampolsky, Teach only Love

I took my 5 year old granddaughter to her gymnastics class; it was raining and I was late. Her class had already started, and I was mad at myself for not paying closer attention to the time. We entered into a small waiting area where I helped her take off her outer clothes that covered her exercise leotard. She was wearing a necklace and a bracelet that also needed to be removed, and I put them carefully on top of her clothes in a chair. I then opened the door to a huge room full of gymnastic equipment, and escorted her to join her class of 5 little girls that were doing warm up exercises. I noticed that it was cold in this room, but thought that she would be fine once she started her class activities. I was so focused on getting her to the class, that I didn't notice her unhappiness. I felt her resistance when we walked in; she stiffened and pulled her hand away from mine, but I quickly walked back to the waiting area and sat down to watch her perform the different activities with her class. When I looked up to see her still standing where I left her and refusing to even sit down in the circle with the other girls, I wondered if I should do something. I saw the teacher continue to urge her to join in and even forced her to sit and move her arms and legs but; she was clearly having no part of this class! My next thought was, "What is her problem?"

I stood up in front of the large viewing window and caught her attention. I gave her face and hand gestures indicating "join in!" I'm sure my facial expression was not very pleasant and Jerry reminds us that, "When we see someone who is acting from anger and judgment, we can recognize that they are fearful and need our love and support. No one who is angry and upset has ever been helped by more anger and attack." She just shook her head at me and looked down with her arms folded across her chest in defiance.

I went back to my seat wondering what to do. I could go in there and talk with her or, I could bring her out in the waiting room and see what was wrong. Maybe she didn't feel well or did I rush her too much? Either way, I felt it wouldn't work. There was a woman sitting near me watching her daughter and noticed her behavior.

"Today is the first day of the new classes…she is probably shy because her good friend is not here today…she usually participates."

"You're probably right "I said, remembering that her mother had told me that her good friend was no longer going to the class with her. Another thing I remembered in that moment was, it takes her a while to feel comfortable in new situations. I also remembered her lack of participation during her Christmas preschool show because of stage fear and her parent's disappointment with her behavior. In truth, I was also disappointed that she was afraid to have fun. So, I decided to just be patient, not stand at the window, and hope she would eventually join in. Thirty minutes later, she was still refusing to participate. I started to feel impatient again and wanted to take her out of the class since it was almost over.

Suddenly, I looked at the chair next to me where her clothes lay and saw her necklace. It was a small disc on a ribbon that had the word Love on it. At that moment, I realized that she needed my love and support, not my judgment. I held the necklace in my hand and closed my eyes. Silently, I began to send her love, but I was not attached to making her behavior change. I wanted her to be happy and enjoy her experience, and I began to feel much more peaceful.

The class was almost over and I looked up, and saw her running with the others to take a turn jumping into a pit full of large sponges. I saw her laughing and jumping with the others as she came down a slide and ran over to the waiting area with a huge smile on her face. Later, in the waiting area, her teacher expressed concern over her lack of participation when she said, "She wouldn't tell me what was wrong! I kept asking and asking but she said nothing!" She didn't criticize her or single her out in front of the group; she just showed her care and concern.

"Did you miss your friend today?" I asked while she was getting dressed.

"Yes… and it was really cold in there!… May I have a snack?" and she led me to a room that had a variety of candy and ice cream treats. There was no hesitation this time, and her blue eyes sparkled while she quickly ate her ice cream sandwich.

Her mom appeared and asked how her class went. She stopped eating and looked at me fearful of what I would say. I looked at her and understood her call for help with disappointing her mom. In this moment of feeling connected to her, I decided to respond as peacefully as I could without being dishonest. "She didn't participate as much as usual but, she had fun at the end of the class." I said.

"That's ok… this time" said her mom but added…"Next time if you don't participate, you can't be in the class…it costs too much money for you to just sit there." She nodded her head indicating she understood.

Jerry tells us, "Dropping out of the attack/defend/attack game allows us to touch a very beautiful place in our heart- the place that knows the truth and responds from love."

My treat that day was her ice cream kiss goodbye.