Sunday, April 6, 2014

An Open Letter to My Sons, Ages 13 and 11

  “Your children are not your children.
They are sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the make upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness.
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He also loves the bow that is stable.”
Kahlil Gibran

Dear Things 1 and 2,

I've been thinking a lot about my parenting lately and I've come to some tough conclusions.  See, no one gave me a user manual when either of you were born.  And no one told me that Thing 2 would not be simply the updated beta version of Thing 1...but an entirely new being altogether.  One would think that, sharing the same genetic coding, you would be FAIRLY similar but, alas, I have had to adapt as a parent to two completely different personalities.

Here's the deal, kiddos:  my vision of your lives is not reality.  

Let me explain.  See, I thought that maybe you would be like me...except BETTER VERSIONS of me.  I thought you would have my excellent grades with none of my weirdness and personality flaws.  OR, I thought you would be like your dad.  Maybe like who he is NOW.  I thought you would be even-tempered and funny with the smarts to ace tests when you felt like it and charm rooms when you didn't.

Smaller versions of Things 1 and 2
But the thing that I've come to grips with is this:  you are completely different people.  You have your own paths to follow and the paths that you are choosing are probably not going to be the paths I would have chosen for you.  I would have picked straight A's with plenty of wholesome and fun-filled activities.  I would have picked Kookie Kutter Kids of the TV sitcom variety.  The reason I've harped about grades and responsibility and Doing What's Right is because I was expecting you to stand tall on that conveyor belt and make your way through the factory to the end. To the Diploma.  To the College Degree.  To be like Everyone Else.

I have been wrong.  Damnation, it stings to admit it.  But I have been wrong. 

Who both of you are is so much more amazing than I could have ever conjured up.  Man, you're funny.  And kind (most of the time, if not to each other).  You're quick-witted and lively.  Sometimes, you flash a bit of anger.  But you stand up for what's right.  And you don't seem to care about what the crowd is doing...each of you carves your own way.  You're so smart it's scary sometimes.  I don't know if your teachers see it because I don't know that you care to show them.  You regularly miss assignments.  One of you gets suspended more often than I care to think about.  You bump and grind through the machinery.  And're getting polished.  You're getting through it.  Not the way I would have liked and not the easy way...but you're getting through it.

I've been scared for you, I'll admit it.  The world is not always kind to people who are people who make their own way.  But you're handling it. As you tell me, Thing 1, you've got this under control.

I'm sorry for "monologuing" as you put it just the other day, Thing 2.  I'll try not to do that anymore.  It must suck to sit there and listen to a parent go through all the reasons why you should be doing something differently.  My excuse would have been that I want what's best for you.  But maybe I don't know what that is. 

Heck, I'm just getting my OWN life figured out...I don't know how I ever thought I could be a parent and be responsible for molding OTHER people.  This is YOUR life.  The mistakes you make are yours.  I can offer guidance...but I cannot shape you to be that vision of the kids I THOUGHT I wanted.  (Besides, those kids would bore me to TEARS!)

I think you're the bees' knees.  You're the bomb diggity.  You are both easily far and away the best thing I've done with my life.  And I am so honored to get to be a part of your lives. Thank you for not allowing me to bend you into people you are not.  Thank you for being strong in the face of parental stupidity.

I'll try to do better.  Now, please...finish your homework.

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