My Mum had me when she was 46 years old. It was the 60’s so this was a little unusual. The only people giving birth at that age were Catholics and people who didn’t know any better. My Dad took a lot of pride in saying to me ‘ you could have been a mongoloid’……. ‘luckily you weren’t a mongoloid’. I used to think this was quite exotic, shame I wasn’t one. Later it got shortened to mongol, this didn’t sound so great. We were allowed to use words like that in the 60s.Now we say special needs. I could have been special needs I would think later, all goofy shoes and nappies trudging to school.
Anyway, I didn’t turn out to be a mongoloid much to my Father’s disappointment. I became a yoga teacher. This was quite useful to deal with the impact in later life of the hard knot of neuroses that had formed in me when I found out that mongoloid wasn’t an exotic Russian ballerina. It was also very useful on Tuesday this week.
On Tuesday I arrived at school as usual to pick up my 8 year old. I knew something was up from the children being hushed outside because the teacher wanted to ‘talk’. As she started talking I could hear some words from her mouth… ‘kicked in the head…. ‘bleeding lip’……’ special needs’. I knew she was still talking but I had stopped listening. I could see the special needs boy and I was thinking, if I move really fast I can get to him. I was trying to go quickly through my Rolodex of pithy Buddhist phrases that would help, no nothing there. Gandhi. Jesus. What would I say? The truth was I felt more like Homer Simpson ‘ Why you little….’ And then I realised that I had pulled the cork out of the anger bottle and I actually wanted to harm the child just like he had hurt mine.
But this is a tale with a happy ending. I remembered that I could have been that child and when I remembered that I could see that there is a bit of us in everyone. And then I saw the upset first year teacher and I remembered that she was suffering also. And then I remembered that I had a choice in that one brief second and it went like this. I turned to the teacher and said ‘You sound like you have had a really difficult day (hug), don’t worry, I’ll just take my son home’. All that neuroses, all that suffering, all that yoga and I came up with that. Finally.
Practice for today: We have a choice in any moment to make the world a slightly better place through compassion or love, or to fuel the fire of our own suffering and anger. Choose wisely. If feels good.