I have very few pieces of fine jewelry. Some are sentimental and others just beautiful. I have always loved pearls (recall that pearls originate as irritants like a grain of sand, that when roughed around by tumultuous waves become larger, more symmetrical and more luminescent – sound familiar?)

I don’t have a jewelry box per se. My few pieces are kept in a stained glass rectangular tray on my bathroom counter. I like to see them every day even if I don’t wear them. Each piece or set of earrings has meaning to me and I enjoy having them out where they make that room more personal to me.

My son Zach has an affinity for small objects. Ok, it is more of an obsession. As a young boy he kept a matchbox car clenched in his palm. Not just any car. A taxi, that he wore the black stripes off of. We tried to replace it with a back up (or at least have one handy in case, Heaven forbid he ever lost it.). But that effort was futile since he of course could tell the difference. His 24-7 grip on that car kept it secure, so we never actually had to replace it.

At some point, as we learned by reading books like the “Out-of-Sync-Child” (by author Carol Stock Kranowitz) that this obsession served a physical/neurological calming purpose for Zach. Clenching it put pressure on the inside of his palms and helped settle him. Think of all the ways we seek these behaviors as adults (exercising, meditating, praying – or less desirable – drinking, smoking, eating comfort food, etc.)

As Zach grew, his clenched object of choice became a marble. Thousands of marbles in our lives would decorate our floors, cars, pockets, purses and anywhere he could stash them. That attachment, morphed into yet smaller objects like small beads he would joyfully touch at Michael’s craft shop, before purchasing. Seems the older he got, the smaller the object. He held them so tightly that he preferred a blister on his hand to letting it go, even when trying to do things like propel a tricycle.

Back to the jewelry. Zach loves it. He comes into that space, reaches up to the counter and removes the small stained glass tray and brings it to the floor where he dumps it. He treads lightly, not knowing if I will scorn him for it or tell him “not to touch that.” For many years that was exactly what he heard from me. As if to say “those things are too valuable for your hands.”

But after years of bearing witness to his determination, I have learned Zach’s pursuits have little to do with the items themselves. True, they are small objects he likes to grip. But he has no intention of harming, keeping or even losing them. It’s a matter of trust. He wants to re-confirm, that I trust him to take care. That I believe he won’t harm them, destroy them, or try to take them. It’s his way of remembering that he is worthy of handling items that are important to me.

Next time someone in your life pushes a boundary you have set, take a step back and ask yourself what is really at play here? Is it the jewelry they are after? Or just the experience of being entrusted with something valuable to you, like your unconditional acceptance, love, and trust in them.

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