the other day a couple came into my office to speak with me about concerns they have for their child. its a normal occurrence for me, my job is to support parents with concerns about their children. but this meeting was different.
i am a diagnostician. i assess situations problems. i assess and in my analyses i am generally able to both identify and direct a plan to solve the problem. for 20 years i have done this with individuals groups programs organizations and communities. i’ve spent a great deal of time and money learning the craft of diagnosis and i can honestly say with all my experience training and know how more than 8 out of 10 times i’m right.
watching this couple the other day i was thrown off guard. completely. the diagnostician in me was hyper-vigilant. i knew that a hole would be found in their story that would lead to the conclusion that their child’s problem rested in some dysfunction they had in fact projected onto him. i looked for hidden aggression and waited patiently for one of them to be thrown off the game so that the curtain would come up and i could finally see the ropes and sandbags behind stage.
and i have heard some doozies.
i’ve watched couples cry in one another’s arms and the next morning have one be hospitalized and the other in a tattoo parlor. i’ve listened to anthologies of fabricated lifestyles. and i’ve offered genuine sympathy for parents who didn’t understand how their precious baby had turned so rancid never mind the addictions and unsavory lifestyles they modeled.
but this couple…they were different. which is why it took more time for me to diagnosis the situation at hand. their bottom line was something i don’t get to see often. its occurrence as rare in my lifetime as halley’s comet. watching their body language like a hawk i finally pinpointed it when he couldn’t put his hand on a document that was missing. he was losing patience with himself and the entire process.
his head buried in the 5 inch file they brought with school records and letters from church members. he looked nervously at me as though he needed to assure me that he was in fact telling the truth and the document was in the folder. i didn’t say anything about the form. i just kept chattering and asking questions about the child they had concerns for. she didn’t take her eyes off me and answered my questions without missing a beat. her hands in front of her but subtly leaning in toward him. i asked a routine question about early childhood. he was pulling out an obscure document dated 6 years back at a time when he thought all was well with his son. shakily he laid the paper on the desk and looked at her. she did not turn to him but interrupted her answer to me and said
babe, its at home.
then continued her response to me. that simple. that quick. he calmed exhaled and gave me his attention. my diagnosis…this was the real thing. you know that thing that movies try to sell us. they thing they tell us if we loose weight buy this perfume dye our hair that shade of red or learn to sing or dance or speak portuguese we too can obtain that thing. that real thing.
the connection between the two of them was so solid so real it was almost another person. he did not require her to look at him or touch him. the trust between them a foundation to build…a family.
she didn’t touch him. she was very careful during the meeting to maintain a professional demeanor. but she leaned closer and he turned his body toward her. eyes on me but their attention their intention was completely directed at one another. love.
it walked in my office disguised as a problem and for a moment i almost mistook it as such.