Bootcamp 3: Tormentor to Mentor

by Nancy Bekhor

helping grandma with her shopping

“Yes, I can do this!”. So went the pep talk I was giving myself about calming down and being more gentle with Marley.
Why do I bother to comply with him? (coined ‘compassionate modification’ by William Stillman)
I find that the more I tune into Marley the more my own life works. It’s as if that frequency or field… the way of being of it..allows me to be far more intuitive and ‘on the money’ in my own life. 
As I sat on the couch, relaxing, I heard the familiar sound of a high pitched drill that celebrates another level up in Marley’s computer game. My insides are cringing to the noise and I say, “please put your headphones on, I need quiet.” But as the bootcamp is still active, I take a moment to consider the situation. “Surely Marley has been expected to endure sounds that drove him to distraction. He used to be so sensitive, covering his ears, cowering from the sensation so typical of those with autism.
So, now the shoe is on the other foot!

” No, I do not want any excuses Nancy. I want it done.” I spoke firmly to myself to ensure the gravity of the “opportunity”. Opportunity? Can you imagine the personal power one would have if nothing could faze you, unhinge you, upset you because you could go to your inner peace in your imagination instead, regardless!

Marley seems pleased with my progress. I am far more aware of being in a gentle, open and loving state. I am offering this improved state to him more of the time. There is a a very positive flow on effect in my own life as well. It’s ironic, how I founded a consciousness and healing centre in Hong Kong in the ’80s for the express purpose that all of us could experience life as vital and energized, yet I gained the most towards this by parenting my ‘special’ boy. Ironic? Because I thought taking care of Marley took me away from my ‘work’.

Now he turns his full attention to his 87 year old grandma, Helen, and the state of her vibrations…

First let it be said that grandmother and grandson are great pals. They play together and laugh almost everyday. What more could I wish for than that those two have such a wonderful relationship. He says,”we are good for each other”.
Grandma also has a tendency to say ‘No’, rather than to listen and consider. She also tends to boom it out the ‘no’ as if her life depended on it. Innovative ideas, alternative suggestions, unusual requests are invariably met with the ‘No’. It is especially daunting to receive the ‘No’ when the offer is to improve her own situation. At times I go the distance and keep at her until she sees what is  actually on offer and that it is good. This is very tiring. 

Prior to the current intensity of this bootcamp,whenever Marley would suggest something new, or a novel way to do something,grandma would do the expected. She would say “No”, without really comprehending. Because Marley does not see the world as we do,he is ‘wired up’ differently, his ideas appear to come from left field. 
Here’s a case of it: Grandma’s memory has been failing. Both were often at loggerheads because he remembers something and she doesn’t. Yes, I am dealing with neurological challenges from both generations!
He got this idea to photograph all of her shopping items and organise the info perchance she forgets this mundane stuff too. He had recently begun to be fascinated with photography. I thought this was very resourceful of him. But the verbal pingpong match began in her kitchen “no don’t do that” “yes I will”. Well, what do you know? It it did turn out to be an incredibly useful system.

His ideas more often than not work even if his explanation of them takes time for us to really comprehend. Sometimes the validity of his suggestions may even take a year or two to prove themselves so. These days I just assume his ideas are good and my work is to open my mind to understand. My self help mantra has become ‘marley is always right’, because history has proved it so too many times. The easier and invariably more successful route is to accept what he says at the get go.
 Remember that this is a boy who does not yet read or write (although he is trying to and currently ‘collects’ words). He does not watch television and knows nothing about what is ‘going on’. Neither at the level of currrent affairs or the actual reality that the rest of share. That he cannot pass any standard  school exams may be why is ‘ideas’ are not assumed to be good by the rest of us who ourselves did well in school.  (Yes, this is prejudice (pre-judge) in play.)
I read a New York Times article about Autism being considered like schizophrenia in the 1960s because of their crazy talk of travelling to other planets and landing on the moon. Yet landing on the moon happened in 1969. hmm?

Or what about the time we were outdoors in a restaurant and he wanted to blow bubbles. We said,”no you cannot do that, because this is a restaurant yada,yada”. All of a sudden, multicoloured bubbles began to stream around our table. What do you know, this is how the next table of a lawyer and science teacher celebrated their birthdays! To top it off, they were using a type of bubble machine I had never seen in my life before but that Marley had been dreaming up and trying to describe to me for a year!!@!!#!!
“Why do you always say NO!!”. he says authoritatively to his grandma while at her gleaming kitchen table.
He does not become disempowered.
When I can, I usually mediate by showing her how his suggestion is most likely a really good one. Or, how to negotiate with him so that everyone feels heard. Yes it is amusing to watch my son fight the same battles I did as a child. But he is self assured, whereas I was that unlistened to child, like so many of my generation-gap era, trying to come out from under the thumb of the cultural parental blind dominance. In my case, from under the weight of Middle-Eastern Jewish family culture.

What’s at stake here is not the usual demand for something that children commonly do from their parents, which we call ‘Spoilt’..  
Remember who this boy is… He does not function as we do.
I also hated the lazy ‘no’ from authority figures as a child and I  still do.

So back to bootcamp for grandma.
Marley had recently started a humorous play with me. He would call me a ‘piglet’, I would call him a ‘donkey’ and so it went. We laugh at the endearing epithets. He must have tried to play like this with her one afternoon, but it did not go well. By the time I arrived he had ‘manacled’ her wrist saying,
“She says I am bad to say ‘piglet’. But I am not bad. I am loving her so much to say it!”
“Grandma, Why don’t you understand!!”.
Unfortunately her Victorian education and its rules of etiquette caused my mother to assess the word ‘piglet’ as improper, and she was sticking to it.

It is extraordinary to watch Marley attempt to break through these ultimately meaningless social conventions that most people live inside of and causing them to feel empty or at least incomplete but with no idea why. This is at the expense of more genuine and heartfelt expressions.  I remember as a teenager how I so wished people were simply honest and cut out the ‘pretense’.  Breakthroughs in these patterns are part of why graduates of advanced personal development workshops feel so good, so happy, as they get in touch with what they really feel, not what they should feel or think. It must be said that Marley is not confused. He simply wants to feel good all the time and pleasing people for the sake of it is simply not on the table.
Well things came to a head one day. He had had enough. Grandma had taken an unfair position and he had asked for an apology.
Bootcamp 4 coming soon

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