Big Day Monday

Jordan will return to school on Monday. It won’t be soon enough for her. Saturday morning she whined while sitting at the breakfast table, “why can’t I go to school today?” An explanation of weekday mechanics did little to pacify her, so she ran off to get some “homework”. Of course, Jeanette and I plan to use this episode to our advantage in later years, when it is possible that her academic enthusiasm might wane.

The human brain deserves more respect and awe. Most of us take it for granted. Jordan’s recuperation is a decisive testimonial on the merits of the compensatory nature of our internal wiring. Whereas a week ago she could barely color in the lines, yesterday she was sketching patterns with her crayons and adeptly coloring her menu at the local restaurant where we lunched. To regain her artistry she put herself on an intensive course of self-directed physical therapy.

Jeanette explained to me how Jordan did it. Wednesday morning, Jordan sat in our atrium and quietly colored page after page. She practiced making fine, controlled motions with her hands. With relaxed wrists and a delicate grip, she sketched arching strokes and simple textures in random, disorganized patterns. If there was a blank spot of paper, she colored it. Looking at the pages now, I recognize that each is an abstraction – a coterie of colors and lines that have no meaning or definition on their own. Yet, viewed as a whole, there is indeed a picture: a picture of recovery.

What’s most fascinating about this behavior is that Jordan came up with it on her own. She didn’t give us much explanation about what she was doing. She was a sphinx. She occupied herself for hours at a time, leaving a trail of multi-colored construction paper in her wake. Sometimes she would ask Jeanette to help her. Jeanette would cradle her wrist and the two of them would tackle a color book together. Her focused activity bordered on obsessive compulsion. But it seems to have achieved its purpose. The neatly colored artwork adorning our refrigerator is its testament. In the process of recovery, she is a better colorer today than she was before this all began. And the pride of her accomplishment beams from her face. If I didn’t know better, I would swear Jordan was from Missouri. She needs to see for herself that she is getting better. All the coddling and positive reinforcement from mom and dad is fine and well, but nothing beats seeing results.