After dinner two nights ago, Kate took a seat with her iPad in the family room while I watered a few plants on the patio. When I came back in, she had closed the iPad and was leafing through a magazine. She looked disturbed, and I asked her about it.
She said she didn’t want to talk about it then, but she was facing a decision. I asked if she could just tell me what the decision was. She said she wasn’t ready but that she would like to talk with me later. I held back a moment. She continued to sit in her chair with her head to one side and resting on her hand. She was very absorbed in thought.
I tried very carefully not to push her, but I repeated how much I would like to be of help. Again, I asked if she could just tell me what kind of decision she was trying to make. Gradually, she started talking. She began by saying, “I really want to help people.” That led her story to unfold, but not in an orderly fashion nor could I understand everything.
I quickly realized that she had imagined having an experience with someone. She told me she “knows” a woman who is trying to help children showing signs of getting into trouble. I wasn’t at all surprised about the expression of her desire to help people, but I was impressed with the thinking she was doing about the problem of helping the woman and the children and how to address it most effectively. She said it was not an easy thing to do and would require a lot of coordination. She wanted us to think about people we could bring in to assist in the planning and implementation of the program. She was also concerned about the time frame. She said there is a lot of planning that needs to be done before taking any action; however, she felt that there could be a danger of not acting as quickly as we need to. We (she) talked about twenty minutes before she seemed to slow up. I told her she seemed to have a grasp of the situation and the challenges she would face. I suggested that she might think overnight on what we had discussed and just relax a while before going to bed. She agreed, and that ended the conversation. As I suspected at the time, it seemed to be forgotten yesterday if it wasn’t before she was asleep that night.
The experience made me think of something that has crossed my mind before. She recognizes how little she is able to do on her own. Occasionally, she says something that indicates a desire to do more to be useful rather than just working on her iPad. Sometimes she helps me with little things like making up the bed. It would be a far cry from launching the kind of program she talked about the other night, but I could enlist her help with other things like the laundry and other household chores. I have often thought of some type of volunteer work, but most of those opportunities require someone that can be counted on to be consistent in showing up. That could be a problem. I’m going to continue thinking about possibilities.