Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Exploration Stage

Years ago, when I had the time to date full time, I bought a book by Harville Hendrix, entitled "Keeping the Love You Find."  The book provides a step-by-step process toward examining how personal relationships at every stage of your life has brought you to the state of being Single, starting at birth and until your last adult fling.  In fact, the exercises can raise such intense feelings that he recommends that you not date until you have finished and digested the whole book, and can jump in to the gene pool armed with a new and healthy perspective.

I have kept this book because it did force me to see repeating patterns in my unsuccessful dating, and because his descriptions of each stage of childhood development help me understand how Raphaela now views the world and her place in it.  As a parent, I strive, to the best of my awareness,  to prevent her from getting stuck in later years, when she starts forming love and friendships outside our small circle; especially given the unconventional aspect of her conception.

Hendrix writes, regarding the Exploration stage:  "The child's drive is not to be autonomous or separate, but to explore the world...Actually he is torn between his newfound fascination with the world and his conflicting need for reassurance of his mother's continued availability. He wants to leave, but only if everything will be the same when he returns.

Like all children, he refuses to go to bed peacefully.  He wants more experience, more fun, another story.  He doesn't want to miss anything. What seems like defiance is more indicative of the powerful drive to explore and experiment, and the degree of frustration when that drive is thwarted.

He is exploring, not rebelling."

As a mother, it is my job to set protective limits, watch Raphaela conquer her world, and be proud of her assertiveness.

Raphaela's world is more complicated than mine.  Today at the zoo, I heard a child say, "Those bears are from Syria, they are terrorists."  The adults snickered and launched into a discussion of Middle East politics.  The most I worried about as a sheltered child was the neighbor who lived near the park, who had a large and scary dog.  Raphaela's reality in Israel will make her grow up more quickly in many respects, and will give me far more to worry about than whether she knows how to cross the street to visit her friend's house. 

Regardless, for the quality of life we have in Jerusalem, and the happiness I feel with Raphaela, we are staying, for now.


Anonymous said...

Hello fellow blogger. I really enjoy your blog and I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger award. I know you are busy with the baby. But if you have time here is the link.

Doc said...

Thanks! What a compliment.