Friday, June 27, 2008

Animal love to the rescue!

Had a brainwave I needed to share. I think getting Gillian to volunteer with an organisation that works with animals might be a good way of keeping her centred, and hopefully staving off the less than desirable influences she gets from her friends.

Latest harrowing incident in her school that rang alarm bells in my head - Gillian was called up to the VP's office because she had witnessed an incident in class. One of her friends had brought a penknife to school. Another girl took the penknife and started slashing her arms with it. Gillian said there was so much blood and the cut was so deep you could see the white of the fatty layer.

KH and I talked about our concerns and worry for her this morning in the car. We came to the conclusion that there was nothing much we could do to change the situation or protect her - she was in school for so many hours a day, away from us, and she was entering a phase in life when peer opinion and approval were important to her. Much though we would love to keep her in a bubble and let her emerge only when she was 30, this is not going to be possible. We're going to have to learn to trust a bit more, let go a bit more and then channel her and her energies into situations which are not so volatile in nature.

Gillian likes animals, particularly dogs and cats. So I'm thinking that a good way to keep her feet on the ground is to nurture her love and her knack for animals. Volunteering at the Zoo or at the SPCA might be a good start. It would be a different circle of friends that she would get to know - and I don't know if I am being naive or sweeping but I think people who love animals and care for animals usually tend to be more sensible, loving, kind and responsible. Certainly they would not place "boyfriends", "gangs", "emo slashing", "truancy" at the top of their list of priorities. I think the idea of volunteering and in an animal-care environment, would be good for her.

KH thinks its a good idea too. We're hoping some positive vibes from the animals and the animal-care situation, would rub off on her! Let's be clear - Gillian is still very much the girl I know, she is, right now (and I hope I am not hexing myself by writing this!) quite sensible about things, but as I told KH, she is only 13 - she's still got 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 to go!!! And in any one of those years, at any time, things could change just like that! But I hope to change the course of the river before it ever hits any rough patches. Am I being delusional or blindly optimistic? Both are different sides of the same coin. Will start exploring this option further...

Footnote to the slashing incident: Gill says the girl came back to school the next day - with clear cane marks on her. She said that girl was caned and belted for her actions.

I think slashing yourself is stupid. I also think it is a cry for help. And I think it is doubly stupid of parents to cane someone so clearly crying out for some help and connection. What good would caning do? I am speculating but maybe caning is the only course of action familiar to those parents, one they have resorted to in the past that actually worked? But the thing is, how do you impart the lesson of hurt to someone who would readily hurt herself? Things are already too far gone for that.

But if I feel for this girl, let me also say that I feel even more for her parents. I know I would feel so terrible - fearful, helpless, sad, angry, worried, if all that happened to Gillian. So maybe they lashed out in the midst of these powerful emotions. I hope they find their way and I hope I never have to go there.

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