I am a container for you.

You are a container for me.

We don’t think much of containers except when we can’t find their lids.

I bought 3 boxes that fit one inside another, beautiful and solid, for $7, for myself, on a fairly recent birthday. I slide different things into them for my students: rocks, slips of paper with words on them. There’s magic in opening a beautiful box with something placed inside it for you.

The woman I interview about creating a family drinking policy for teenagers tells me our conversations are safe containers for our kids. Another interviewee tells me we are to be calm, cool and collected when we talk to our kids. What do we do if we are not these three things? We wait until later to talk.

Um, I am not always a calm container. Then my closet holds my pieces as I sit on the floor,  collecting myself into a calmer version of myself. My husband sometimes is a container for me, reminding me of all of the wonderful traits and successes that are cataloged into my being.

When I prepare to teach my students, I fill my containers – the beautiful boxes and the bags – full of teaching materials. I chose the poems and I write a poem or two myself. But mostly I remember that I am there for them, so I always bring my flexibility. I am a container for them.

And they are containers for me. Did you write this poem, Nancy? You wrote this poem Nancy? I like this poem!

I like myself when I am with my students. Even when they frustrate me with their completely perfect, developmentally appropriate behavior, I love myself when I am with them. Because we only have an hour together, and I can be a good container for an hour of time.

I have 3 boxes that are beautifully adorned that fit one inside another. I almost didn’t buy them for myself, but my mother urged me on. Go on, she said, buy them for yourself. She didn’t buy them for me; after all, I am in my 40s now. I like both of these facts: the encouragement and the not buying. She is a container for me. I am a container for her. We fit together. She isn’t always calm, cool and collected. I’m not always calm, cool and collected. So we call each other later. We always talk about the hard stuff. I learned how to talk about the hard stuff with her.

I practice being a container with my husband. He practices being one with me. So we can be containers for our kids. We yearn to teach them how to belong to themselves completely instead of seeking belonging from the world. Yet we also know the world is a container for them and for us. Ah, how to belong to ourselves, to make good boundaries while also belonging to the world at large?

Containers, I’m thinking about containers.





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