Sunday, 26 December 2010
There are things about Sperancia, who just turned two, that worry those of us who work with her. Sperancia is afraid of many things, and she often shows signs of extreme anxiety. There are two working theories about Sperancia. One medical professional who assessed her thinks that she might be on the autistic spectrum. The other suspects that she has been abused.
When I took Sperancia up to the third floor balcony yesterday, to open Christmas gifts with the other baby house children, I did so with reservations. Sure enough, seeing the large group of babies up there, she sensed that something out of the ordinary was happening and she began to howl.
I lifted her up onto a wicker sofa, wiped her tears, and, pressing my hands either side of her face, re-assured her that everything was all right. Staying close-by, I invited her just to watch, as the other little ones tore through the brightly coloured tissue paper, to reveal teddy bears, dolls, and soft balls. With her thumb in her mouth, Sperancia observed them intently.
One boy cheered as he unwrapped a fabric book. Another, Elverson, backed away from the teddy bear that he had unwrapped, doubt and trepidation dancing across his face. What was that thing? Would it move? He didn't want to be close to it if it did!
The owner of the fabric book swapped gifts with Elverson. There was no prompting. The older boy was not afraid of teddy bears, but he recognised and responded to the fear of the younger boy with an empathy and grace that touched me.
Sperencia watched the other babies unwrap their gifts. Peterson was so awed by what he was seeing and experiencing, that his mouth gaped open. He has never seen so many toys just appear like this! Other children, like Wislande, seemed to be more interested in the wrapping paper than the toys. There was laughter as Wislande impishly feigned alarm, threw her toys away, and erupted into a fit of giggles when the toys were fired back towards her.
Sperencia was perfectly calm when I extended my arms and asked if she wanted to come down from the sofa to join us on the tiled floor. Sperencia reached back. She was ready.
With help, she tore off the tissue paper, and underneath, she found a panda. I was unsure how she would react. We do not keep soft toys in the nursery. An unfamiliar furry bear might precipitate a melt-down from her. She looked from me to the Panda. Realising the opportunity 'oohhed' and 'aahhed'. Sperencia, taking the que, brought the bear to her chest in an embrace, and patted it.
I was sure that the next gift she unwrapped would break the spell. It was a red-haired barbie doll. Sperencia is deathly afraid of Dixie Bickel's two year old, red-headed Grand-daughter...... To my surprise, Sperencia stroked the dolls hair, and explored it's moving limbs. Then, picking up the barbie, she broke out into a wide grin, and toddled away from me, doll in hand.I can't know exactly what it was that soothed Sperancia's heart yesterday. I get the feeling it wasn't so much about the gifts, as it was about the mysterious, miraculous spirit of God, a heavenly Father who knows her and a saviour sent to heal all kinds of brokenness.
Posted by Susan Westwood at 06:01