Found this blog, in my unpost­ed blog file, which goes along with the book I am cur­rent­ly read­ing — more of that later.

All vul­ner­a­ble liv­ing crea­tures rec­og­nize their need for ten­der­ness, and gen­tle­ness. They rec­og­nize it even more when they receive it just when needed.

I encoun­tered a sit­u­a­tion a few weeks ago with a 19-month-old lit­tle girl. She was tired, the end of one of her very long days in day­care and she was also under the weath­er to the point that she was very ready to take a nap ear­ly in the morn­ing as against her usu­al after-lunch nap!

In the lat­ter part of the after­noon I could see that she was cranky. I was sit­ting on the floor read­ing to sev­er­al chil­dren and just said to her “Put your head on my lap and find your thumkin (her thumb)”. She imme­di­ate­ly put her head down, sucked her thumb and was calm for a while.

More notable is the approach tak­en by anoth­er staff mem­ber – not hav­ing the abil­i­ty to read the child’s need – she went to get the child’s mat­tress, blan­ket and cud­dly rab­bit, her reg­u­lar sleep­ing com­pan­ions. What this child need­ed was sim­ple: she need­ed a human per­son to rec­og­nize her, albeit brief, need for ten­der­ness and gen­tle­ness ‘on her terms’ – not based on an adult’s per­cep­tion of her needs.

I thought of this lit­tle girl one morn­ing last month. Our cock­atiel Miss Bird had been moult­ing – not so good when the weath­er turns cold! She was obvi­ous­ly miss­ing the ten­der times we’ve had togeth­er. She tapped her head against my knuck­le. “Rub my neck” she was say­ing. She can take such gen­tle­ness for as long as I have the energy. 

Or else she’s on my right shoul­der with her beak quite close to my lips. “Would you like a kiss?” I ask. She responds by putting her beak against my lips.

When she gets a bit nig­g­ley and snarls at me I usu­al­ly take her gen­tly in both hands hold­ing her, head down­wards, and talk to her gen­tly – she doesn’t wig­gle, squirm or snarl! She knows that I’m talk­ing to her.

My hus­band fell asleep in his chair that morn­ing. Miss Bird hopped over to his leg and pot­tered around his knees as though she was keep­ing him safe.

We all need to devel­op and under­stand our 6th sense for each other’s needs for ten­der­ness and gen­tle­ness. Our world is a less­er place when we per­sist in doing things our way or by the book with no true regard for the needs of those more vul­ner­a­ble than ourselves.