In Defense of Youth / Through My Children's Eyes
It is 7:03 a.m. and only one of my two boys has agreed to eat their peach oatmeal. The oldest is holding out, since he was promised waffles at bed time last night. In his protest he keeps repeating last night’s agreement in a whiny tone that could make a wine glass resonate. The other has finished breaking his fast, which was easy since a blob of grain meal the size of his fist sits on his lap ground into his corduroys.
My wife has just pulled out of the drive, already late for work, having had to change the baby girl’s clothes for a second time…….reflux. The same misfortune that had kept her up ‘till 10:30 each night this winter....only to rise upon each hour to nurse.
I trip on a toy fire truck to the dismay of the boys, and remember that I should have been at work earlier today, as grades are going out for my 65 students and a couple hundred of the 350 assignments I correct each week are without a mark. “Shit, I was supposed to scan and email the home plans.” to Ed, my builder, I scream (under my breath). And why are we out of milk? we spent our last $8.00 earned in March to get some….when was it?
It’s typical (although a bit less stressful and confusing than normal) morning at The Preacher’s parsonage.
To someone young, just married, or debating parenthood, a look into the life of a family of five may be very ominous. What they do not understand is that all this confusion and sacrifice feels to a good parent, like the feeling of pressure from a championship game, speech, election, or business deal in which you cannot loose,
During the end of the winter, cabin fever, lack of spending money, and stress was leading me to question when I would ever again have fun. When would my love and I go out, hear music, have dinner, or laugh with our close friends. One night, feeling as though I had somehow been duked, by myself, into becoming and old guy, who drives a gray caravan with two missing hubcaps, and sometimes cuts out coupons for canned beer. What had I done with my life? In sober defeat, before retiring after an extremely boring Friday night, I posted “$300 REWARD: For the individual who locates or returns my youth.” on a friend's blog.
Although the weekend seemed to be a blast for my kids, who I helped become space travelers and firefighters, while dogsledding across Greenland (on their mushing couch) in two short days…I was blah and pissed off at all the responsibility.
Upon my next check of the blog, I read the following response from a great friend, and father of two. “Look into your children’s eyes. You’ll find your youth there."
I was home, ill with pneumonia. For the next couple days I waxed very emotional about my own youth. I remembered my imaginary friends. My red bike. The way I would wear the closest thing I had to my dad’s cloths every morning, and the feeling of going with him to work or visit some of the old Vermont Characters that have gone now. My slingshot, my dog Jake, and Friday night when my PJs were on and Waylon’s theme song for The Dukes of Hazard began. The crush I had on my babysitter and Daisy. I remembered tearing the shit out of my mom’s house; creating an entire imaginary society each Saturday morning before my parents were up. The time I went fishing with my friends……over night…..and forgot to leave a note.
With that I realized it may be best to stop recalling my youth. For one, projecting the shit I pulled on my own kids got scary. But also, I was afforded that wonderful childhood, by parents who sacrificed for me….and never once complained. And they had gone through much more struggle than I. What had I done? My youth has turned to theirs!
In the past week, I have realized that if I were diagnosed with pneumonia in late March 1919, I would be dead right now…..leaving a widow and three children in need. How blessed am I from every angle.
This epiphany has been a long time coming. Luckily, embracing the chaos of my progeny seems to be easier than cultivating dismay. I think the idea of seeing my youth in their eyes will always help me come to terms with how hard it is to raise three children.
The true beauty of childhood has been squandered by many in our society. Children are given expensive toys designed by engineers, stamped with a valueless cartoon character, and advertised by brainwashing. The intent is that all this stuff will keep them busy. Out of the way. Sedated.
I am glad that we have steered from this televised mess with our boys. They seem to have great ambition and creativity. I need to allow for even more of the spirit of adventure and imaginative PLAY in their lives, and allow for mine to gradually wane.I’ll have my fun when I can, and much of it from watching the boys slay dragons and race go carts.
Childhood is so beautiful and so fragile. It should be honored on the highest level and treated like an heirloom china doll.....past from generation to generation.........only a couple glue seems.....unless broken by a parent who cannot see their duty.
Oh, the things I feel from looking into my children's eyes.