I was teased a lot as a kid.
I was short, very skinny and extremely hyper (when Oprah ran a special on Attention Deficit Disorder, several friends called to say I had ADHD 🙂 ).
But something happened late in my teen years. I grew overnight to 5’11”, put on 30 pounds of muscle so I was trim instead of skinny, and calmed down. I started dressing more stylishly. Even my facial features changed (Wife M looks at pictures of me and says she can’t believe it is the same person). Personality wise, I become less impetuous, and my tolerance of others improved. Suddenly, some of the girls who had teased me as a kid were asking me out in college, and I was approached by strangers. All that has no meaning now, except it is much better memories than the ones I had where I was teased, and it has given me a lot of confidence in myself as I age. In the early years, I oversteered – I became a little cocky. But after a few years that too calmed down into quiet confidence, and then I met my future Wife M.
But my point is this — if life had been taken away at 10, 15 or even 20 or 25, I’d never had a chance to change, to evolve, not only looks wise but personality wise (I am a much wiser person I think then even in my 20s). My life would have been — and =eople would remember me as — a small, opinionated, high-strung, homely kid with glasses.
It is such a gift to be given a long life, to change and evolve, to grow as a person. Not everyone gets that chance. So I am very grateful. And how many kids or young adults have died who didn’t get a chance to evolve. Which is one of the many reasons I love the idea of forgiveness and thinking the best of young people, and why our incarceration and imprisonment of so many young men and women is devestating, and one of many reasons of why wars are so tragic.
Son R and daughter L – just a grade apart – each had a couple of friends over last night. The group talked (and laughed) all throught he night, just 5 teens sitting in our living room chatting about who-knows-what and occassionally howling with laughter. This morning, all of them are crashed in the livinr room. Really, I love having teens. There is a lot of energy and you never know who is going to show at the house, and honestly there isn’t much for me to do (just a few years ago a “sleep over” was a lot of work for me 🙂 ). I love these days, and will miss them as much as I miss the school-age days whent they have passed.
More than anything else, this shows the sheltered life I’ve led, but I think the most nerve-wrenching thing I did as a parent was drop my oldest (son R) off at Kindergarten, which happened 13 years ago tomorrow. I was so worried about him – would he do okay? Would he make friends? Would he be bullied? It was stressful and worrisome. I didn’t feel that way about my daughter L, not only because she was the second in line (we’d already done it so I knew what to expect) but she was much easier to adjust to things at the time. But, again, it shows what a privileged life I lead – there are people in USA who have to worry about their kids and drive-by shootings, etc. I did not go to a great high school (it was half minority in a poor area and there were problems with gangs, etc.), but I did not have to raise my kids in that. I feel blessed. And I wish I could make it so no one had to raise their kids in that. The fact we have that in the USA is really unforgivable to us, our Leaders, and our top 1% who have retired and spend their days in luxury.
We were going somewhere — on a trip — but R didn’t want to go, so we were leaving him, and wife M and I were helping him with final arrangements and I was very nervous for him. In my dream, he was probably 13 or 14. Of course, the dream was related to our trip later this year where he is staying behind – he is pretty much an adult and it won’t be the first time and he is 100% capable and he specifically does not want to go (what college age kid wants to spend 2 weeks with their parents?), but I am none-the-less slightly nervous on his behalf 🙂 I love having nearly grown kids but also do miss when they were younger, those bundle-of-energy school age kids who wore me out all the time — it’s not that I want my kids to be young again (I love who they are now), but I miss those young kids I spent so much time with who basically don’t exist anymore 🙂 I think I am mourning those times some times, although I also wouldn’t trade in my times now. Darn it, I want all those times 🙂
The dream changed a little at that point. Before we left, my friend and our friend E were there and they were going on a (platonic) trip together. In life, I don’t even know that they know each other, and both are in partnerships (one is married, the other in a long-term commitment), and I would not picture them together in a million years, but in the dream I — and I think my friend T — were hoping they would bond and it would turn into a romantic trip. I was giving him some advice on what kind of music (rock music — WTH?) he should play for her. I think it is interesting I put them together in my dream – they are night and day and nothing alike, although both of them at some point has disappointed me on one level or another although both are good people.
Later, the dream morphed into a long drive that was almost like a computer game or something out of Tron, where we were driving south to Tuscon in a kind of digital setting. When we got to Tuscon, it was the ocean (of course – always some weird twist in a dream) and we were actually attending some kind of seminar or conference, except the person who was supposed to be leading it was an old man and had submerged himself in the ocean (which reminded me of Hawaii’s ocean – clear and white sands) for a very long time. “Shouldn’t we pull him up?” I asked my wife but she commented he obviously knew what he was doing. My alarm went off about here…
My dreams of late have had a dusk-like feel to them, and today was slightly brighter — not like real life, but not so dark either except for a stretch in the beginning. Wife M thinks I am having these dreams because I am having troubles with my vision in general, and seeing dark things in particular.
R had just finished 1st grade and L kindergarten when we brought that fuzzy yellow lab puppy home for the first time. He grew quickly, and was with us — getting into all kinds of mischief — as we went on family trips, family outings, moved a couple of times and went through the absolute fun madness that is living in a family of 4 high energy people.
Now T is old. He has gone from sprinting away at every opportunity to barely able to walk on our walk. As I type this he is wheezing in a deep sleep on the floor behind me, a place that he occupies probably 22 hours a day. Honestly, I am not all that sure he knows where he is half the time. At the same time, our kids are so close to college. All the family pancake breakfasts and the family Mexican food dinners and the family pizza/movie nights in front of the big screen TV are in the past.
It makes me very sad. Those days when everything I did all day every day was about the family are gone, and I just don’t want them to be. I truly hope that I am allowed to keep those memories forever (dementia* is truly an awful thing).
* Note about warding off dementia: My wife read that balancing can help prevent dementia. So the yoga moves where we balance on one foot, trying to steady myself on a boat — those help ward off dementia. Who knew?? And who the heck thought to study that?? I’ve (literally) taken to standing on one foot when brushing my teeth or making my morning coffee.
Our teen daughter is heading off to her Junior Retreat, and they asked parents to put together a booklet of memories and inspirational items for their students. So M and I went down to the art story to purchase fancy pens and paper, heading to the coffee shop, and spent two hours walking down memory lane. It was wonderful. I can sum up my memories like this: Where does the time go?
Literally, one week your daughter is a few months old riding on your wife’s hip, and the next week she is nearing her senior year in high school.
Time has gone too fast (it always does), and I wish their childhood lasted longer, but I can honestly say this: I have no regrets. I was there, I was involved, and I did the best that I possibly could.
I can’t imagine that there is any stronger emotion in the universe than the love I feel for my wife and kids. I hope when I leave this world, I am allowed to take that feeling with me.
Corny? Yes. But true.
One of the beauties of having high school students in the house is they go to bed after M and I do. Which means quite a few times I’ll clean up the dishes and wipe everything down before I go to bed, only to wake up and find a kitchen literally spilling over with dirty dishes and crumbs first thing in the morning. It’s pretty amazing, more than a little humorous, and anyone who has had teens (or been a teen) knows that nagging/begging/pleading/yelling/bribing has zero long-term effect.
Last night, this theme took a different twist when one of the teens let our youngest dog out to use the bathroom (AKA backyard) at some point after 10 PM, then forgot to bring him back in.
I awakened at 5 AM to hear the desperate yelping of the dog (“For heaven’s sake, pleeeeasssse let me in!”), who was trying to claw his way through our back door, and who tore through the house in utter madness or pure elation (not sure which) when I let him in. Needless to say, he got a few sympathetic pats and even a dog treat out of the deal, so he feels pretty good now. But, alas, such are the risks when you live with beloved teens. 🙂
Never a dull moment. And I wouldn’t trade it in for anything.