I am having a hard time with the whole growing up thing. Not for me you understand, I am pretty sure most people who know me gave up on that a long time ago. But for my children Boo and D, both for entirely different reasons.
It is perhaps a bit easier to explain in Boo’s case than D’s. For Boo, for the first time, I am getting to experience fully the joy of being a full-time parent from birth onward. I have been there for her first steps, her first words, teething, midnight feedings and the like. But now, suddenly out of nowhere it feels like, I have a 2-yr old toddler who is convinced that she is ready now to take on the world. And as much as I love watching her brain grown and her personality develop (although I am panicking a little bit at how to successfully raise a strong-headed girl), I miss the quiet times with her curled up on my chest, carrying her around everywhere and watching her grow. If I could I think I would go through this with her 10 times and probably still find new things to marvel over. And no, I don’t really want 10 more kids… I’m fine with the ones I’ve got thank you very much.
As for D, the challenge comes in many more complex flavors. D turns 18 this year and has successfully completed the HiSet test (which is the state replacement of the old GED for people who drop out of school). D scored high enough on most categories that D is considered college ready and I really don’t feel old enough to have a college student yet. Then there have been my recent conversations with D lately. They are beginning to show glimmers of the adult that I had always hoped D would be, but that had gotten lost in the drugs and other poor choices D had been making. It gives me hope that D will eventually come to terms with whomever D decides to be and that D can grow out of the past mistakes. I just hope that when that time comes that both of us are in a place where I don’t miss the chance to reconnect with the person blooming now and that the consequences we have had to put in place to protect all of us don’t stay between us forever.
I sometimes wonder if I’m a good parent. I think most any parent worth their salt does at least once every now and then. But sometimes, I wish there was a way to know ahead of time, you know like a test. Something empirical and scientific. But then you have the results… what happens if you get an “F”?
Part of me wonders about all this I think because I have had several acquaintances (friends of friends) lose their teenage children to suicide. And if I go back to look, the reason I started this blog in the first place was because my fifth grader handed me a note after school one day that said “Sometimes I think about killing myself.” I have been most blessed in that D decided to NOT take that final fatal step.
Another part of me wonders about all this because of what happened to that little Syrian boy who drowned while trying to cross to Europe with his family. What would I NOT do to help my little girl? I am so very very grateful that my life has never been so desperate for safety, shelter and peace that I have had to make the decision to flee to somewhere else and face the many challenges that come with that, nor that I have ever had to pay the price these parents did…
When will we learn that our anger, our intransigence, our pride are what are killing these precious ones? As surely as any bullets fired from a gun. Shame on us for acting otherwise. Shame on us for not doing more.
As I start raising Boo, restarting the process as it were, and keep trying to build a positive relationship with my oldest, I look back on my previous mistakes and hope that I can learn from them. I hope both my children grow into the promising young people I see when I look at them. I hope they know how much they are still loved, even when they drive me nuts.
I hope the little boy’s family find their peace. I hope he knew how much he was loved.
Because at the end of the day, I want my children to help create a world where pictures like the one above never happen again. Where ALL people are welcomed as part of our common human family. Where we can ALL find peace. And where ALL people can come together in a moment of tragedy to say join in one voice and say, “No more!”