Dr Judith Guedalia

Hang In There: Larvae, Pupae Metamorphose and Do Become Functioning Adults
"Metamorphosis is a biological process by which an animal physically develops after birth or hatching, involving a conspicuous and relatively abrupt change in the animal's form or structure through cell growth and differentiation. Scientific usage of the term is exclusive, and is not applied to general aspects of cell growth, including rapid growth spurts. References to "metamorphosis" in mammals are imprecise and only colloquial. _option_option_option


"Larva stage: During the larva stage, mealworms will undergo repeated molting between bouts of eating various vegetation or dead insects. During its last molt, it loses its carapace before curling into its pupal form.


"Pupa stage: The pupa starts a creamy white color and changes slowly to brown during its pupation stage. In this stage it is said that they look a bit like 'aliens.'


"Adult stage: The newly emerged mealworm beetle will sit still as its wings unfold and dry. It will appear a creamy color, stop moving, and will slowly turn brown over a period of 2-7 days. Once the mealworm beetle has turned brown they will become more mature and begin to look for a mate." (Wikipedia)


Some kids just are so difficult "At Risk" or actually off the precipice, in a lost valley Sometimes Chas VeShalom, seen as a 'Rodef' by and to their families Maybe giving them up for lost is the right way for the family (and therapist) to survive; They suck your blood like a vampire bat; they spit on those who feed and care for them as do camels; Metamorphous? Become butterflies!? They beautify our world; pollinate our flowers; bring the flavor of honey to all what a dream!


I guess I looked at this chance meeting as a Round Table meeting; as similar to those I read about among the Algonquin crowd*.  A number of independent thinking  "artists" as it were, sitting around, and shooting the breeze on a lot of topics on which they have pondered; As the repartée and topics hovered about the four of us, we each brought our histories to the table: historical, personal, professional, religious, and academic. 


I enjoyed the excitement of scintillating conversation around a table between "artists" − people passionate about taking amorphous basics such as primary colors and making them into something unique and indelibly their own. 


I thought of how a painting takes shape when the palate is full of ideas and each "artist" holds his or her own paintbrush to the blank sheet.  Does one sitting around a table use one sheet of paper, with each one, allotted a space? Does the paint of the one, broach the boundaries of the other?  Are these "skirmishes" across another's space seen as intrusive, as interference, as welcome cross-pollination? Is the end result, the end result?  Is there a greater whole that comes of the pieces?


Reading about the authors of the moment in the 20s has always tweaked my interest.  There was a lot of dissonance between them, which, in its own way, created both the text and canvas for the combined and separate "art work" created.


I wondered about the Chavruta experience of those who spend years in Batei Midrashim hammering out ideas/thoughts of those before them, their teachers and their own nascent thoughts, in order to develop experienced "learning" styles.  Many of the people (mostly men) I poled for this "unstructured" study, felt that any time they tried hammering out ideas with more than two people in a chavruta, it was less than successful, as compared to when the points were labored on over time, in the age-old way of the "two-man" chavruta.


And yet, here we were − four "strangers" who sat about a table with diet Coke and water, touching on our historical narratives, our educational and professional selves, our belief systems of the past and present and our "evolved" personae of this moment.


The topic settled on was the FFB (Frum-From-Birth)/BT (Baal Teshuva) time continuum, of when and how in the life/time-line these epiphany-laden altering changes occurred. 


Only moments were relegated to them; sort of a short hand; "yeah the Shabbat moment thing"; "oh, the boy-girl thing"; "the Truth vs. the expedient thing."


I felt as an insider and outsider, at the same time.  My life, I felt, was soooo boring by comparison.  In observance, thoughts and activities, I am not much different from my mother, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers and even great-great grandmothers (we are fortunate to have pictures and stories of them all). Once you have changed the "set-scenery" to take into account that this play was happening in the 21st and not the 18th century.


Another topic was (for a short minute) what is referred to as "At Risk" teens/behavior.  A code word for behavior that bespeaks teens' developmental issues, whether they may be hormonal, a burgeoning need to "break away" and assert independence of thought and behavior, albeit under the watchful/non-watchful all-seeing/ unseeing eye and roof of parents/Rebbes/Rebbetzins, and the sociology of "friends"-whatever-that-is.


So here we are at a defining moment. An avatar (a computer user's representation of him/herself or alter ego-Wikipedia) has been "created" in the center of the table depicting one such "At Risk/Off-the-Derech/loose cannon/lonely/sad/love-starved/love sated/ hormonally erratic/religiously confused/ignorant/naively knowledgeable 13 to 19-year- old.


This "persona" fits the requirement of someone who we've all seen a bunch of times, and whose "unique" diatribe is eerily familiar; in a sense we know the music and the words before s/he opens his/her mouth to speak.


What now? Where are we in this "as if" meeting? Where does transference/narcissism/ skill/professional maturity/counter-transference/the poetry and dance of psychotherapeutic contact meet and do its transmigration work/magic?


Sure opening moves/styles are as finite and yet as different as Bobby Fisher the late Chess "Ilui" demonstrated, but our proverbial "avatar" is standing in the center of the table waiting to be "fixed."  Behind the scenes there are many that pray-for and at the same time pray-against the overall price and energy this change will exact; "Fixed/ Change" may and does impact on the IP − Identified Patient − the whole family constellation, the school, and even our combined universe.


The voices around the table speak.  They are not one voice.  The "art" they will bring forth looks like it will take place on separate parts of the "community" canvas. 


Interestingly, once the veneer of each voice is "neutralized," what seems to remain is not so much their "right/left/modern/FFB/BT"-ness but rather the aura/mist/cloud-like envelope of their unstated and seemingly forgotten, "graduated from" metamorphosed selves.


I went home thinking that I hope we all use, bless and recognize the good-bad-ugly-glorious generations of experiences in a reparative way when we delve into ourselves to help others. 


Don't think for a minute that what you have been "created" − in formal schools and the informal school of life − can be better than that created in the Seven Days of Bereishit.  In attempting to do so, we risk throwing out the proverbial baby that Hashem created in Gan Eden along with our historic "bathwater."


Parents, Teachers and Mental Health Professionals**, let's get out the elbow grease and help that avatar polish the gold "Pintele Yid/Kid" that little spark of Jewishness that remains alive and indestructible inside.  In order to do that, one has to connect with one's own self and that glow will point you and your "charges" in the right direction.


* The Algonquin Round Table was a celebrated group of New York City writers, critics, actors and wits that gathered for lunch each day at the Algonquin Hotel from 1919 until roughly 1929.


** Nefesh Israel 9th Annual Conference in Jerusalem, Israel, was held January 20-22..


Tags: At Risk | Jewish Press | Off The Derech