The correct systems were put into place, and Ben’s dad, Matt arrived quickly to take him home. Not knowing exactly what was wrong, Matt stayed home and let their caregiver go home, in hopes she had not caught whatever this bug was. Kaitlyn stayed at work, and Matt dealt with the endless rounds of vomiting. Finally in the evening, things settled. With a negative Covid test in the books, and a stomach that seemed like it might cooperate, we felt it was safe for us to have our regular day with the boys on Wednesday.
Wednesday was far from regular, with Ben having no energy, but he was certainly better than he had been on Tuesday. We decided to have him again on Thursday, figuring if he had something contagious, we’d have already been exposed and we might as well spare their caregiver. Luckily, things are back to normal with everyone feeling pretty good.
I know I won’t forget the feeling I had of worry about Ben and what he might have. It’s terrible feeling so helpless, especially when a little one is involved. Yet even though I’ll keep this memory, there is another one that I know will also remain in my mind. Ben is crazy about all things involving vehicles. He can name every brand of car, and most specific makes. He knows about all the construction vehicles, skinstruction vehicles he calls them. He’s curious about speed limits and construction zones, about speeding tickets and engines and tires. I guess I should not have been surprised then. Surprised that he, when he was so sick and on one instance did not make it to the bathroom on time, was still thinking about all things cars. His parents had wiped up and then washed the spot on the carpet and Ben could see, from his vantage point on the couch, it was still wet. He got up, found his little ten-inch orange caution cones he uses for his bike and for car play, and set them up around the wet spot. He wanted to make sure everyone knew there was a hazard to avoid.
It's precious, really.
About the same time the call would have come from the preschool, I was high in the Foothills on my regular Tuesday hike. Lynne and I had just come to the top of the ridge and were excited to see the view. Lynne had not been to this area since the wicked windstorms of late November so this was her first chance to see the damage up close. It was good for me to revisit this through her eyes. Brenda and I have become used to it as we hike the area weekly. I’d forgotten just how shocking it really is. When we reached the top, we were shocked to see the trail was blocked off, not by trees, but by caution tape. The forestry people have been clearing for months, but the tape indicated they had not finished the piece of the ridge in this particular area. We were surprised to think there had not been a warning at the beginning of the trail; it was much farther to turn around than it would have been had we been able to go forward. As we pondered what to do, we saw small bits of the same colour tape tied to trees on a side trail. Understanding this could be a detour, we followed them. To our complete amazement and delight, the new trail took us onto a horse trail on the opposite side of the ridge, exposing us to a most spectacular view of the Rockie Mountains. It wound around to join the blocked off trail on the opposite side.
I found it interesting there had been two examples of caution signs on the very same day, the one on the trail, and Ben’s homemade one in his living room. Of course, most of us are used to seeing caution cones or signs when there is construction around or a hazard on a roadway. We are far less seeing them in our personal lives. I think we might be missing something here.
Each of us has times when the people in our lives could be of better service to us, if only they knew how. Often, they don’t even realize support or help is needed. So many times, we struggle internally and try to keep the impact on others to a minimum. Alas, it rarely works. It leaks out of us, sometimes causing the impact on others to be even worse as they create stories in their minds about what is going on.
I’ve been picturing me putting up cones with signs on them. “Caution, I’m worrying about a friend. I might not be at my best. I could use a good pair of ears.”
Or “Caution, I’m ready to make a huge change! Get out of my way! I may not be as attentive as I could.”
Or “Caution, I’m at this gathering, but I’m not yet fully comfortable with ‘normal’ yet.”
Or maybe just a tiny little one at the front door, indicating, “Just a little extra kindness is needed, please.”
When we allow others some insight into our intentions, into what’s going on behind the scenes in our lives, the result is they also understand our behaviour and don’t have to create stories around what the behaviour means. It prevents misunderstanding.
Little Ben got it right. Most of us don’t dream about having construction cones laid out as part of our home décor. It would be easy to be annoyed at seeing this if we had no insight. But knowing his love of cars, and understanding his innocence and purity of purpose, the message was received exactly the way it was intended. And during a time of worry, the thoughtfulness of it warmed a few hearts too.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘What cone is needed here?’
Next week is Easter weekend. I’ll be taking some time off. See you later in the spring!
Elizabeth is a certified professional Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership coaching. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups. She has expertise in facilitating Strategic Plans for organizations and for conducting leadership reviews. Contact Elizabeth to learn how to place your construction cones.