So apparently there is a parenting style called “free range parenting”. I haven’t really read too much about it but have heard the term thrown around. Evidently, it is a throw back to the 70s and 80s when kids growing up didn’t always have an adult scrutinizing their every movement. I just wanted to assure you all the free range parenting is alive and well at my house. Assorted commitments have me out of the house quite a few evenings this week. My solution is to leave the kids car keys and cash.
The 11 year old was already responsible and organized. The 16 year old is getting there.
It’s been radio silence around here lately. I really haven’t felt much like writing or communicating. There was –
The 8 month mark
The Westminster Dog Show
Snow Days with Offices Closed
A handprint on the mirror
The indelible memory of my head resting on his shoulder
Most of these won’t mean much to you. But they mean a lot to me. It’s been a challenging couple of days.
But there was also this…
Parker made us Valentines. One of the things she wrote on Grant’s was “Thank you for teaching me the greatness of old classic rock.” This was, of course, an important life lesson passed on to Grant from Dave which he has, in turn, passed on to her. Oh my heart.
My kind and supportive friend, Liz, has mentioned on several occasions that when you are ready to reach out and help someone else, it is a sign of healing. It is an idea that I have been mulling over in the last few weeks. I still don’t have a firm opinion on this yet.
When Grant reached out to his friend who lost her dad, I saw that as a sign that my son understands that helping a friend when they are down is the right thing to do. I figured that he was using his unfortunate knowledge and experience to try to ease someone else’s heartbreak just a little. At the same time, I also worried about the effect this might have on him too.
Experience has taught me not to ask for permission to do something for someone else. After all, they might be like me and say no. In recent weeks I have had the opportunity to do for someone else. I have tried to unlock my memories from the summer and figure out what I most appreciated. I hope that my friend has felt a tiny bit less alone and found a little comfort in having an understanding ear who is willing to listen and random food items delivered to her door. Has this been healing for me? I am not really sure. But it is not only the right thing to do, it is what I want to do for my friend.
Dave’s mom and dad spend the colder months in Hawaii. Last week, his mom was out for a walk by herself and slipped on some wet stairs. Thankfully she had her cell phone with her and was able to call for help. Her injury required major surgery and several days in the hospital. It is hard to feel supportive and helpful (my love language is acts of service) from so far away. I consider myself to be a fairly decent problem solver, so I ordered a few things that will hopefully make her recovery a little more pleasant and comfortable. Has this been healing for me? I am not really sure. But it is important to me to feel useful in some way and show my caring. (Dave’s mom seems to be doing okay, thank goodness!)
So, where am I with my healing? I have no idea. I received an email from one of the nurses who put together the colon cancer retreat through Johns Hopkins. She was reaching out to all of the “caregivers” who have now lost their spouses. In it she mentions that in the beginning our commonality was having a spouse with colon cancer and now we have all lost our spouses and would we like to get together sometime to share and visit together. My immediate and current reaction to that email is “Heck, no. No way. Not a snowball’s chance in hell.” The idea of sitting with a group of others and talking about what we have been through or are going through sounds horrific. I do not have the capacity to manage that much grief.
So is reaching out to others a sign of healing? I really don’t know. I do know that being helpful makes me feel like this ill gained understanding could have some small iota of purpose. But it has not brought me any greater acceptance of losing Dave or made me miss him any less. Maybe I have unrealistic expectations for what healing looks like.
I had Dave and his friend, Rick, pose for this picture. When I asked them to hold hands, they just did – without question or hesitation. (I was trying to create a cialis ad like image!)
Each week, I go to different grade level math meetings as part of my job as a resource teacher. At the beginning of each meeting, we start with “Celebrations”. Yesterday, on one team, the celebration was to reflect on who your most influential teacher was. I loved listening to others share who the teacher was, what grade and for better or worse how they were influenced by this individual.
I had no idea how many of our teachers were children of teachers. Several people said that they called their mom after a challenging day or when they wanted to reflect on how a lesson or interaction went. That sounding board, for me, was always Dave. I would come home and unload whatever was on my mind. And he would listen and generally offer me a solution or advice which I may or may not have followed. Over time, he realized that his best response was just to be happy or indignant or frustrated with me. That was really what I was looking for. Yesterday was kind of a frustrating day. I would have loved to have talked to him about it. I miss that time.
For the record, my most influential teacher was Mr. Masatani (not sure how to spell it). He was my fifth grade teacher. He was kind of gruff and once accused me of using my brother’s project from the year before (as if!). He had a connection with the LA Dodgers and awarded prizes like jerseys and baseballs for achievements. I remember when your cursive handwriting met his high standard you were allowed to write in pen and he rewarded you with a special pen eraser. The thing that I most remember about him though was that he was probably the first Japanese person that I had a lot of contact with. It was the first time in my life that someone (at least to my face) recognized me as being asian and exposed me to what that meant. It was the first time that I learned about the Japanese internment camps in WWII. (For those of you who don’t know me, I was born in France. My biological mom was Japanese and my biological father was Czech. I was adopted when I was 2 1/2 in Germany by a caucasian US Army officer and his caucasian wife – also known as Mom and Dad!) 5th grade was the first time that I considered what it meant to be Japanese.
In college, I tutored a Japanese woman in English. She teased me for my pitiful lack of knowledge historically and culturally and invited me over for meals so that I might learn more!
Grant – Mom, you know __________?
Me – yeah…
Grant – Her dad died two hours ago.
Me – What? How? Was he sick?
Grant – I am not really sure, and I didn’t think that I should ask.
Me – I am so sorry to hear that. That is terrible.
Grant – We (he and a couple of his friends) are going to go out tomorrow morning and get her a DS and Animal Crossing because I found that helpful after dad died.
Me – I’ll give you money for that.
Grant – No. That’s okay. I think that it would be more meaningful coming from me.
My heart breaks for Grant’s friend and her family. But I am amazed at the caring and maturity of my kid. Though extremely unfortunate, I think that his friend has just the right friend to walk with her through this terrible time.