Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Precious limits

There is a very fine line between being precious and believing life is precious. Very fine. A parent who never gets angry at a kid for anything probably isn't doing that kid any favors - they will certainly get the feedback that their behavior (actions, words, or otherwise) isn't copacetic, but from a less loving and forgiving audience. Like classmates. But always getting on your kids' backs about little stuff isn't good for them, or us, either. I find myself short tempered occasionally (ahem.) and finding I have to remind myself (literally, the voice speaks in my head and says: reminder! you have overdue library books and quit yelling at your kids!) to appreciate that they are kids, they are imperfect, they are learning how to do stuff (like not yell at people just 'cause you don't like what they are doing), and frequent yelling really just lowers the bar for everyone. Otoh, if you wait too long, if you don't remind them that you love who they are enough, if you forget to remind them to walk out of the pill popping party, if you forget to yell at them for leaving towels to molder or food under the bed for weeeeeeks, you do risk sending them out into the world unprepared. In the past month, 2 stories of young (young! like 18/19 years old) boys who were smart, athletic, popular, funny, good in and at school, liked by parents and coaches and teachers and kids alike - are dead. Dead from overdosing on pills that they probably didn't even know how to identify. Dead as doornails in their pookashells and board shorts. This one is Henry Louis. One of two, one of I don't know HOW many beautiful boys with futures and potential, families who truly loved them, who did consider them precious in the weave of their family and the fabric of the future. With mothers who nursed them endless hours and woke with them to fever and vomit, who stayed awake for them through proms and dates, who felt their pain of rejection, and their ecstasy in the win. There is so much sadness in these losses, it is so incredibly deep - like the fissures in Greenland that go through the ice and down into the ground, where heat escapes into the air from the bowels of the earth. Something like this brings it's heat and stink into the world irreparably. There is no recovery, the scars never ever go away. Did these parents fail their kids? Did they do enough?

Parents have the job of fledging children, not protecting them indefinitely. There is some place, some time, when a child does separate from their core family, and move into the world on their own. There isn't a prescriptive or correct method to this madness, a new nest gets built, and they have to sleep in it. If they build it out of friable combustible degraded material, it will not support, and a parent should give warning, should offer to assist. But the kid has to, HAS to figure out how to build this nest themselves and build it out of strong friendships, good decisions, and sound direction. It won't be perfect, it won't work every time, because this precious child is also imperfect and will fail sometimes. Their hearts will break, they'll get sick, and they'll make some bad decisions. Kids rebound, but there are limits. The precious limits of toxic overload (usually from mixing (possibly unidentified) pills with or without liquor), of fights that get out of control, of despair. The limits of precious that help us see our children for their imperfect selves, and the possibility that they need help from us, even after they have fledged, though hopefully before you are sitting with them in ICU.

Note to self: return library books, love on my kids a lot.

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