Friday, December 25, 2009

Let's Give Them Something to Talk About

A loving member of my family recently told me, "Isaac - you're a really good writer, but you write too much." She prefaced this by telling me about her historically short attention span, and I could relate. To be honest, if this blog weren't about me, I probably wouldn't read the whole thing either. Even while I'm writing I drift in and out. That's why James Patterson has become one of my favorite authors. While I used to have the time and patience for "A Hundred Years of Solitude," now I'm better suited to five short pages of riveting drama.

The feedback was a relief. I've been excited to hear people are enjoying my blog, but I've also felt a new pressure to perform, to come up with novel parenting adventures every week (when there probably aren't any left), and to tie a lesson-shaped bow around each experience. Although it was suggested I write this blog, I ultimately chose to do it because of a journal I found after my mom died. It was eleven small pages long, and towards the end my mom wrote briefly about us kids. She wrote it after after my parents break-up and just before she returned to India leaving us behind for the first time. She said she would be gone for six weeks, but didn't return for six months. I remember it feeling like a very long time. 

July 28, 1978 (written by Mary Oberne)

The children will survive, but not without scars of our battles. It's not fair to extend our pain to them. Your daughter loves you unconditionally. Can't you do the same for her? Or must her mother stay in line in order for you to love and be kind to her? Have you looked at Isaac's body - not his round little face, but his body? He is strong. He is built like a Mac Truck. He has the body of a physical person and must be encouraged to use it. And Jacob, little Jacob, he loves so much.

That was it - a paragraph - but it meant a lot to me. It healed an old wound just a little, just enough to close that chapter of my childhood. It was not the content but rather the consideration that mended my misconceptions of that time. Sometimes writing this blog feels like a conversation with a friend or a love letter to my wife, a literary smoke signal to other novice parents and an on-going gift for Amari. 

This is my latest observation in the world of parenting. Notice the brevity.

Babies, I'm learning, are like a projective truth serum, a Rorschach Test of sorts. I'm a counselor at the local grammar and middle schools while Carrie is a high school English teacher. Unfortunately, that means Amari will have to deal with at least one parent lurking around for most of her academic career. So much for our perfectly well-adjusted kid fantasy. As we brought Amari around to our respective jobs and to the homes of our friends and family, people began to expose themselves through seemingly innocuous comments. Fortunately, I own a Simultaneous World View Translator.

1. Grammar school staff: "Enjoy them now while you can."
Translation: The teenage years are just around the corner.

2. High School staff: "Don't worry - it gets easier."
Translation: The teenage years are just around the corner.

3. Middle School staff: "Oh...a's's that the bell?"
Translation: I'm conflicted between job security and having to deal with another unpredictable preteen.

4. Anonymous, psychic, animal-communicating relative: "I think Amari would like it to be cooler in your house, and I'm also sensing that she really likes the outdoors."
Translation: It's really hot in here and I like outdoorsie stuff.

5. Stranger outside of Safeway: "Awww. I love infants."
Translation: I'm a creepy weirdo. Specifying a generalization changes the whole feel of the comment. "I love kids." No problem - who doesn't? "I love eight year olds." Creepy. Too specific. "I love infants." Very creepy. Who uses the word infants when describing their love of babies? 

That's it for today. Tomorrow - our first family Christmas. 

Happy holidays, everyone.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing Mary's thoughts with all of us. We miss her, too.