Firm, clear limits
in space, time and activity.
If you’ve been working with Special Ed children or adults and if you’ve been investigating people with ADHD, you will know about this two word admonition: Clear Boundaries.
Like a sticker on a fender, a tattoo on one’s consciousness, ‘clear boundaries’ is an adage that gets repeated by authorities of every discipline.
Clear boundaries. Clear = stated, repeated, written, spoken, no doubt about it – clear
Boundaries = limitations, lines, do not cross them, stay inside them- boundaries
I know it makes sense. I know it’s important for a disorganized mind to have such a framework. Here I sit. Until this hour. I will do this task. I will ask for help and I will wait patiently knowing that for x number of minutes, I will dwell on the designated assignment. Clear.
In practice, this works occasionally but oh how much better if hyperfocus brings me there. If I, myself, get into the task sitting or standing or exercising. If it’s my choice to be here now.
If someone else imposes the ‘clear boundary’ on me, I tend to rebel. I find a way around it. Sure, I’ll stay within the designated parameters, but you can’t make me think about what you are demanding that I think about unless I, myself, can get into it.
It takes agreement. Once I agree, sure I’ll describe Winston Churchill’s face, I’ll sketch the negative spaces between that pile of chairs, I’ll listen to that speaker and make pertinent observations – yes I will, if I agree.
But, if I don’t want to be there. If I’m coerced and have a million things on my mind, I will be downstairs, building scenery for a play I plan to stage, I’ll be writing the dedication to my next planned book, I’ll be reworking the painting that I have not yet started.
As a teacher, this ‘clear boundary’ stuff is important. I need to offer the unshakeable framework for students. But, I love flexibility. What? Students allowed to go do artwork instead of fighting me because I want them to read something in English? Clear boundaries! Where are the clear boundaries?
What? The students have smiles on their faces as they piece together collages, glue and tear and prepare? What? But it was their English hour! Not an hour designated for free expression.
Oh, yes. And how I wished that I was there, tearing and gluing and preparing a collage, instead of helping a student read a book that would not change his life, but that would fulfill our duty to ‘study English’.
As my heart spills into glue and torn magazines, I sweep the floor with my unrequited collage soul. Pieces of art fade away as I feel the lockdown of ‘Clear Boundaries’ chop away at my spirit.