527. Racquel

Racquel, a young girl, was upset. She dearly loved her mother, Fran, and also loved her mother’s friend, Judy. She enjoyed spending good time with both, both separately and all three together. But Fran and Judy didn’t always get along well with each other; sometimes they annoyed each other. Even though only Fran was Racquel’s parent, the situation reminds me of the issues involved in child custody battles: children often end up being hurt in wars that they don’t want – wars in which they are conscientious objectors.
One day, Racquel noticed that Fran and Judy seemed to be getting along all right – communicating and smiling. She created a ritual to celebrate that communication and those smiles. She asked her mother to stand facing her, with her hands under Racquel’s. She had Judy place her hands on top. Then Racquel pulled her own hands out of the pile, leaving Judy’s hands on Fran’s. Racquel ran and got a series of three edible plants, (mints) which she fed to them in silence, and then ran and got daisies, and placed them on the two hands. Each time she ran to collect more flora, she leaped into the air, as if the weight of the world had been lifted off her shoulders, and she joyously tossed mint into the air. Then she pronounced, “You will be friends forever!”
Even though this ritual was quite spontaneous, it seemed ancient. It seemed like an age-old way to celebrate the coming of peace. I wasn’t an eyewitness to the ceremony; I learned of it through an e-mail message from Judy, who is my good friend. Her message provided me with enough detail and emotional content to visualize what had happened. I knew how much Judy and Racquel loved each other, and though I don’t know Racquel’s mother well, I assume that Racquel and her mother also mean a lot to each other. So this moment meant a lot to Racquel.
Children don’t have power over adults’ relationships. Ultimately, no one has power over the relationship between two people, except those two people. True, when two people argue with each other, they may get insights from other people. They may be influenced when they realize how their arguing affects other people. But they really do have to work it out themselves. Racquel’s ritual was her own way of expressing how she felt. It may have affected Fran and Judy; I’m pretty sure it did; both care a lot about Racquel’s feelings. But it’s really up to Fran and Judy to deal with whatever problems come up in their friendship.
If that doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. It’s sad when one relationship has troubles that impede another one. But sometimes that happens. It happens among divorced parents, and it happens among friends like Fran and Judy. And though children ought to make their feelings known, as Racquel did, ultimately they can’t be in charge of anyone else’s relationships.

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