Tag Archives: dad

There is no “try”

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Moving across the country is not as accepted as I thought. My 15-year-old son informed me that he is “not on board” whatsoever with moving from North Carolina to California. In fact, after he told me exactly that he dramatically stomped out of my room.

“Let’s discuss,” I’d said while adjusting my black wig. (Wait, that is a home dye job. I keep forgetting.)

Later while driving home from his Krav Maga class I decided to impart some wisdom.( As an aside I must say that is one of my very favorite aspects of parenting: the dispensing of my serene Buddist-like knowledge into impressionable young minds. I’ve found the dispensing works best when the young minds sit trapped in the car with me and their ear buds have been taken away.)

Calmly I drove and listened to my sweet, thoughtful son as he told me he would indeed “try” this whole moving thing. Sort of like a new sport I guess.

“I’ll try it for a while,” he said.

“OK,” I cautiously countered.

“But, ” he said, “I don’t really like ultimatums.”

“OK,” I said in my best Buddha voice. “But this isn’t really an ultimatum. I just acknowledged that you have a choice.”

“Saying I have to move is an ultimatum,” he said.

“If you hate it,” I said, “If you are miserable, I will move back here with you. But you have to give it some time.”

“OK,” he said. “I will try it for a while.”

He is so happy now with his friends. For the most part he likes his classes at school; EJD has a pretty good life now. But a change is a gonna come. Inevitable. And no, I never really liked Bob Dylan but I appreciate that he was a catalyst for (a reflection of?) change. And I would move back with my boy, no lie.

Wait a minute. Was that a stomach ache or did I feel more wisdom coming on?

“Your dad and I were talking,” I said, “and he mentioned something I think applies. He said there is no such thing as try, there is only do.”

Yoda!” screamed EJD. “Dad was quoting Star Wars!” Our son almost chortled with joy as he explained the movie scene where Yoda patiently explains this living lesson to hero-in-the-making Luke Skywalker.

Then I remembered the Dude’s vocal intonations. Indeed, there had been a hint of self-mockery present but I’d glided over it in my eagerness to agree that yes, trying without the requisite follow through was an admission of defeat. We’d actually been talking about my new idea for a career but wisdom is wisdom and it applies to all.

I laughed with our boy but was a tad embarrassed for letting the Dude pull one over on me. Now I remembered his pause after he said it, maybe waiting to see if I got the joke. Since I haven’t seen Star Wars and its latent predecessors 5,000 gazillion times the reference escaped me.

Dude is a funny guy. Our marriage has been in the sky and on the skids many a time over the last 20 years but one thing that has stayed constant is his ability to get a laugh.

He is waiting to be with his boy, can’t wait. Lots of plans. EJD can’t see that far ahead because he’s young. All that matters is right here, right now and in a way he’s right, that is all that matters.

But you can’t stop the tide. Going to come, change it is.

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Throw Caution to the Wind

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Visit michelleinthemiddle.com and read my guest blog!

Certainly it is not news that raising children is hard. It’s hard emotionally, financially and physically. Being a role model, not the temporary teenage Miley Cyrus kind but the day in and day out mad sad glad bored tired, kind of role model can be tough.

I’ve failed my mission more than a couple times. My daughter, 18 and full of exciting grown-up life, experienced what I call one of my slip-ups. Except “slip-up” implies a onetime occurrence and this went on for about 10 years.

Whoops.

My two children are like any other two children in that certain traits seem as inborn as their hair and eye color. My daughter, who I mentioned in another post is and always has been shy. My son, not as much. Cautious maybe, not shy. In fact when they were younger and still openly depended on me, my daughter relied on her brother in social situations. Her brother is three years younger than she is yet she would follow him and let him break the ice with other kids.

In fact when EJD (our boy) was about 3 years old my husband and I had to watch him because more than once he tried to go home with other families. Not that he was miserable in ours but he was having so much fun with whomever he latched onto he didn’t want it to end. He seemed to figure, “Why not?” Come to think of it, I used to take him to a very large zoo and let him walk next to me. But he’d get entranced with something, an animal or a person, and forget about his mother. Most kids panic when they realize their parent isn’t nearby, he never ever did. Curious, many times I watched him to see his reaction when he realized I wasn’t there.

He never got upset by my absence and always I had to retrieve him. He was just interested in the world.

My daughter, HRD was another story. She wouldn’t even sit by other toddlers in her mommy and me class. She had to sit on the other side of the big room. That reticence remains.

I never insisted she  stay with a group or a team. After she tried it and inevitably didn’t like it – in soccer she would stand limply near the edge of the field or half-heartedly limp after the spinning ball – then I would let her stop. In the spirit of good mothering,
as years passed and I saw other kids playing soccer or in a ballet recital I tried to convince her to participate, because while it was not the best for her I was also afraid her lack-of-involvement made me look like a bad mom.

But there was yet another reason that I allowed her to avoid team anything.

Her social pain was palpable because she inherited that trait from me. I think. I’d say her dad is also not the most outgoing person. But I was with her and I understood and identified with her discomfort. Instead of moving beyond my own trepidation, I sank in and let her avoid what made her uncomfortable.

Sigh. Parenting mistake #879,999,979.