aftermath

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Posts Tagged ‘father

From There On the Sad Height

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Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers.

Socrates

Funny, I never knew the ancient Greek philosopher had so close a familiarity with the kids of out current generation. Uh, not. And count on it, Socrates’ dad said exactly the same thing about young Soc.

This past weekend, the leader of a discussion group stated that one of the things a son wants most is his father’s acceptance and respect. To which one of the most esteemed members of the group had a strongly differing opinion, to the effect that that rule doesn’t apply to most kids today, that the favor of parents had lost all value under the assault of values spread by the internet, television and other media, schools, and from just about every other direction fear can pound from. To which I ventured my strongly differing opinion to his strongly differing opinion.

I know my father said exactly the same things about my generation, and I’m sure I did everything to convince him he was right. But did I not still crave his approval? and do I not still miss it to this day, even with the responsibility that I myself bear for the schism he and I never resolved?

One of the questions we discussed this past Wednesday asked, “What is the most impactful [sic] thing your father ever told you? (Even if it was not positive, sharing shows how important this is for you.)” I didn’t venture to share. Excuses include: not enough time; didn’t want to get into it; it’s over and done and needn’t get dragged out all over again. Excuses, excuses. Over 45 years after it was spoken, one single word my father said to me still hurts as much as if he had punched me square in the face five seconds ago. Sharing shows how important this is for me? OK then.

When I was 12 years old, my father prohibited me from having a completely innocent friendship with my dearest childhood friend. When I begged to know why, he couldn’t figure out any better way to enforce his discipline than to tell me that she would grow up to be a “whore.”

I was so innocent, at the time I didn’t even know what the word meant. All I knew was the hatred in his mouth voicing the word. Later, I tried to look up the word in my dictionary. Still too clueless to know what my father had said, I probed through the H section until I briefly thought my father had been calling my friend a “horror.” Sitting there in tears, something suddenly came to me, and I turned to the W section . . . and have hated my father ever since. I barely spoke a single word to him the rest of my youth. And what few occasions we have had for contact since then have never lasted past polite exchanges that never get followed up on.

When I died last September, Susan asked if I wanted my father contacted. I said no. And I did mean no. He doesn’t have to know whether I choose to go or stay.

And even so, that doesn’t mean that his blessing would not have meant more to me than his curse has done. Discussing it further later last Wednesday night, Susan pointed back to Esau, who lost the blessing of his father Isaac, when his brother Jacob masqueraded as his hairy brother to bring their dying father one of his last meals. That blessing means something real, tangible, whether it is won by the latest generation’s Jacob or lost by the current generation’s Esau. That blessing means something promising, precious, whether in Socrates’ day or in our own. No matter how rebellious or incorrigible the son, the blessing or the curse of the father matters.

The son may be free enough to not need or want the father’s permission. The son may be of his own mind enough to not care for or listen to the father’s counsel. The son may disagree with the father or even have become an enemy of the father. Yet just as David will still always be mourning Absolom’s death, so too always will the son find strength in his father’s blessing or poison in his father’s curse.

Now I have never had a son of my own to be able to say. As deeply as I have been favored by God to have been a part of two families that have seen six step-children through to their adult lives, at best I can only confirm the damage done to the first three by the void of their fathers’ blessing being absent, and the utterly amazing positive power that the father’s blessing has meant to the second three.

Were I to have a man of the next generation after mine to pass the torch to, he would not hear the words I heard from my father. He would hear only the deepest, most sincere words of acceptance, respect, honor and praise. With no kudos for me for wanting to have the chance to do so. But simply because it’s right.

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Written by macheide

27 April 2012 at 3:24 pm

Posted in quotated

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Unabashed Fun

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thanks Griff, Kya & Suzi for making today pure fun
                    — macheide facebook status update

Yes, fun.

No, I’m not slacking off on my vocab repertoire. I know which word I chose, and I meant it, and I don’t apologize for saying so out loud. Fun. I had a fun day.

Yeah, I know, chalk it up to the amusements of Kemah Boardwalk, right? Like, how many fathers are willing to be there for the poopy diapers? How many happy to get up at 3am in the morning of a workday to calm a wee one scared of monsters under the bed? How many ready to give up the time to do the children’s laundry so the mom can have some playtime with their children? How many there through every dark hour all the way until they’re on their own and even beyond? And how many of those actually want it all, and would use the word “fun” to describe even the worst of it all?

Hey, I’ll never enter any contests for Dad of the Year, and I wouldn’t come anywhere close to even getting honorable mention if someone were to enter me as a write-in candidate. But I do know what the secret ingredient is for it to be fun.

Sharing.

Doing it together.

So yes, I’ve smiled when cleaning up poop smeared all over the bathroom by a baby amused by her own artistic talents. And yes, I’ve had to fret when a child ran away from home. And I’ve driven all night after a hard day of work and been right back to work the next day on no sleep to help a child through a long-distance move. And I’ve been there for the heartaches and the hard work and the wild tantrums and the bitter misunderstandings.

Besides, even days at the amusement park with children are not without their heavy responsibilities. Children can get so easily distracted and wander off to get lost in a crowd in an instant. And strangers with smiles for the wee ones aren’t always ones you’d ever want to have your child “friend,” Facebook or anywhere else. And there are always the moments when a slip and fall bring tears, or a child can’t have all the rides all at once, or you’re reminded of all the other chores and work (and oh, don’t forget the dog needs to be picked up) and those tax forms to be done in less than a month … and so many other really fun stuff like reading poetry and surfing the internet and swimming in a pool already warm enough and endlessly on and on and on, right?

No, very wrong. All the responsibilities of keeping the children safe and happy and fed and cared for were not something that had to be put up with as a duty balancing out the fun of the smiles and laughter and amusements and all. No, it was all part of the fun. All of it. Because it was all shared, together.

I have been honored and blessed and privileged to have had the fun of participating in the lives of six children through two different families, and I’m currently having the fun of helping out as much as I possibly can in babysitting two others. I would have been overjoyed beyond all words to have had the opportunity to have had the same fun — yes, fun! full responsibilities and all — with one of my own. But I have loved every single one of these eight children just as much as I would my own, and every single moment of life I’ve had with them — up or down, good or bad, easy or hard, laughing or crying — has all been completely fun.

Unabashed, I am in saying so. My dictionary tells me that the word “abashed” comes to us from the Old French abaissier, meaning “to put down,” along the same lines that give us words like abase. Where did we ever make so wrong a turn that a “real man” has to feel put down for thinking — no, for knowing — that parenting can be pure fun.

Pure. Fun.

bumper sticker [www.internetbumperstickers.com] - adrien

Written by macheide

23 March 2012 at 9:40 pm

Posted in Adrien

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