Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Parental Guidance Suggested, Often Fallible

Dear Jack,

This morning I read the heartfelt note you left for me on the kitchen counter before you headed off to school and, after a long tearful pause, decided it’s time to let you in on a secret that has taken me decades to decipher.  I don’t know when you will be able to read and grasp what follows, but you are such an old soul, I suspect it will be sooner rather than later, and when you digest it, I hope you are not deflated.  On the contrary, I hope you see how level the playing field of life can be and understand that you don’t need to feel dejected over not always measuring up to the standards that so-called grownups have set for you.  I have a feeling you’re already piecing some of this together for yourself, but what kills me is that while you seem to understand that it can all be so riddled with dysfunction and hypocrisy, you feel pressured and compelled to contort your spirit so that you can blend in with it. 

On the first day of my freshman year at a Jesuit prep school, my English professor waltzed into the classroom and with no introductory comments read aloud the following poem by Philip Larkin:
This Be The Verse
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.      
They may not mean to, but they do.   
They fill you with the faults they had    
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn    
By fools in old-style hats and coats,   
Who half the time were soppy-stern    
 And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.    
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,    
And don’t have any kids yourself.

The class of obnoxious teenage boys filled with so much insecurity naturally exploded with laughter upon hearing a teacher utter the word ‘fuck’ not once but twice.  When the roar settled and silence ruled again, he read it a second time to make sure we absorbed it, and the words punched me in the face the way your letter socked me.

Yesterday after school you sheepishly brandished a yellow slip from your 2nd grade teacher explaining that you did not complete that day’s class work.  This was not the first yellow slip I’d seen, as it had become a trend the previous few weeks, so the sight of another discouraged me.  Since tickets to that night’s Wizard’s game were already purchased and a lie to divert your little brother’s attention from his being left out already cooked, I refrained from raising any kind of hell because the last thing I wanted was to attend your first NBA game at odds with each other.  Instead we had a stern, relatively emotionless chat that still somehow left us both drained.  When the sitter showed and we both scrambled in a frenzy about the house, getting ready to leave, we collided on the steps and hugged it out.  Then you, mid-embrace, age 7, said: ‘I accept you.’

That's the one of the deepest things anyone has ever said to me and it left me utterly speechless, almost gagging on the sudden knot that developed in my throat.  A phrase like that feels just too nuanced, too heavy, too soulful for a kid your age to express, and I suddenly questioned the world and myself over putting you in a position to feel and say such a thing.  It really dressed me down, and I could not be more thankful for it.

It's clear this stuck like a rock in your shoe this morning, which explains the letter you left for me.  It absolutely slayed me with it's endearing misspellings, your cute use of ellipses and the random colon, and I remained preoccupied by it at the office.  I'm in the 9 to 5 business of relationship management, but the matter of our bond eclipsed all of that so much that I bailed early to come home and pour these words out.      

At the end of the day, I realize that being a kid often boils down to winning and retaining the approval of your parents.  What you might not know is, that concept is supposed to be a two way street, and too often parents falter at holding up their end of it because many of us are rudderless vessels in choppy waters fumbling both map and compass, pretending to have our shit together while behind the scenes feverishly trying to figure that shit out, perpetually afraid we're going to be exposed and hopefully one day happening upon something that ties it all together, an anchor for the whole production.  Speaking for myself, I am winging parenthood and learning as I go, often from my own mistakes.  I'm fucked up, and my biggest fear, which to some degree has already been realized, is that I will ultimately fail at harboring you from the rising tide of everything that composes me.  If there is any truth to what Larkin penned, it's a foregone conclusion that this tide will wash over you, and your brother.

If or when it does, may this half-baked attempt at perspective enlighten you enough to know that when it comes to us parents, it's cool to respect your elders, but don't let any of us fool you into thinking we are so much farther ahead on the curve of figuring out what the fuck this is all supposed to mean or how we're ever to find balance.  It's okay to stumble.  We're all doing it.   

I don't want to be on a pedestal; it doesn't suit me.  I love being your dad; it's an honor.  All that being said, sometimes I wonder if we're better off just being best friends who happen to be father-son.  Perhaps if we see it that way, with no titles or labels and undertones of status, we'll just live and learn from each other and not get hung up making mountains of molehills.           

So, in response to your letter, and in conclusion, since you already put it so perfectly, all I can say is: Ditto.

Love and rockets,


Anonymous said...

You remind me:

قمم التميز said...

شركة عزل اسطح بالاحساء
شركة صيانة منازل بالدمام و الخبر
شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالاحساء
شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالدمام
شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالخبر
شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام
شركة مكافحة حشرات بالخبر
شركة تنظيف بالدمام
شركة تنظيف بالخبر
شركة تنظيف منازل بالدمام
شركة تنظيف منازل بالخبر
شركة تنظيف بيوت بالدمام
شركة تنظيف بيوت بالخبر
شركة تنظيف فلل بالدمام
شركة تنظيف فلل بالخبر
شركة تنظيف شقق بالدمام
شركة تنظيف شقق بالخبر
شركة تنظيف خزانات بالدمام
شركة تنظيف خزانات بالخبر

HiToplay said...

Hittoplay is the place where you can have endless entertainment, Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Bukit Bintang Kuala Lumpur .Content: Songs, News, Cooking Recipes, Technology, Religion from all around the world on demand or live Sia Cheap Thrills is just a click away . Coldplay Hymn For The Weekend feat Beyonce
Life without entertainment is colorless Alan Walker Faded and we offer the best entertainment Mike Posner I Took A Pill In Ibiza That you could have ever experienced. Wizkid & Kyla We believe in providing I Took A Pill In Ibiza latest and the best quality, Qayamat Ka Din Video experience. Maulana Tariq Jameel

hitaakademi said...

Ankara'nin en iyi kurye sirketi olan
kurye ankara hizmette
sinir tanimiyor...

ركن الهدى said...

شركة تنظيف موكيت بالدمام
شركة تنظيف مجالس بالدمام
شركة تنظيف ستائر بالدمام
شركة تنظيف كنب بالدمام
شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام
شركة مكافحة النمل الابيض بالدمام
شركة تنظيف خزانات بالدمام
شركة عزل اسطح بالدمام
شركة عزل خزانات بالدمام
شركة تسليك مجارى بالدمام

hitaakademi said...

Ankara'da profesyonel ağda hizmeti
ankara erkek agda hizmette
sinir tanimiyor...

hitaakademi said...

Ankara merkezli sıramatik sistemleri kurulum ve teknik destek hizmetleri
siramatik Türkiye'de hizmet ve faaliyetlerini sürdürmektedir.

Amin Bahar said...

hello my freind.

The world's most trusted site, which has been paying since 2008, can earn thousands of dollars a month with proper planning and management of reefers. For more details and titles, see the following URL.


ชื่อที่แสดง said...

The world's most trusted site, which has been paying since 2008,

thai porn

amira reda said...

شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالاحساء

Kevin said...

Thanks to the writer for sharing such a good article.
I will definitely Recommend it to my friends.

Check my work.

best antivirus 2017
locky ransomware

خدمات منزلية موميزه said...

شركة تنظيف منازل بالدمام

المثالي ماكس said...

شركة المثالية للتنظيف بالخبر

شركة المثالية لتنظيف المنازل بالخبر

شركة المثالية لتنظيف الفلل بالخبر

Ron Smith said...

Thanks for all your information.Website is very nice and informative content.
Copa Airlines Phone Number
Air Canada Phone Number
Alaska Airlines Phone Number
British Airways Phone Number

United Airlines Support Number
United Airlines Support Number
United Airlines Support Number
United Airlines Support Number

شركة الصفرات said...

شركة الصفرات لتنظيف المنازل بالرياض

Russell Starr said...

I wish my teacher had read that out!

Free Daily Horoscopes

wood crusher said...

Thanks to the writer for sharing such a good article.

wood powder machine
combined wood crusher
Tree branch crusher
wood stump crusher
dust free wood crusher

pakescorts646 said...

Looking forblowing escort services. I provide full service erotic experience. You can enjoy a Islamabad Escorts relaxed leisure time with me but I am also suitable for all kind of occasions. From my deepest loving nature I can tell you that I am able to make your time outstanding. Because I am a perfect combination of beauty and attitude. beautiful Lahore Escorts ? I am zoya - elegant, sensational, and jovial call girl with mind.