Remember, No One Is Responsible for Your Son but You
by Archie Wortham --show me more like this
"Nothing lasts forever, not even the pain," are lyrics from a song written by Betty Moore. A Palmer House songstress I knew from my days at Chicago's Players' Workshop of Second City. Unfortunately, our kids sometime might think the pain we give them, or their friends give them might last forever. We have the mission to make sure that doesn't happen.
Recently, Jeremy [our older son] and I were having a tough time of it. I was concerned about some of his behavior at school, and at various group outings. Not that I expect him to be perfect, but I do. And for the life of me, I just couldn't get through to him. Then somewhat of a breakthrough happened as he told me he felt he was being treated unfairly. Heard that one?
Why did he think that? I was involved in many of the things he was doing. I often drove him and his brother to many of the activities they did. I sat through basketball practice, karate exercises, even dance classes. I inquired about his homework, even helped, and I constantly talked to his teachers. And sometimes, as with youth night at a local parish, I took an active part in helping. so why did he feel I was being unfair? Because none of the other kids' dads were so involved. Go figure. But the philosophical underpinning of what was happening here, was not that I was involved. It wasn't really that. It was the fact he was singled out because other kids' dads were not as involved. This hurt. It still hurts. My son was picked on because when his teacher said jump, I asked "how high?" I was hurt because it appeared I was called when my son behaved, and other parents were not being called. Was it that my son was being singled out? No. It was because I was being singled out and my son was suffering. And this became an issue for him; he was frustrated that he didn't know how to handle it. so we had to talk about it. And we did. After a flurry of communiqués from his school via e-mails, conversations and talks with various teachers at the parish, I knew something was wrong, and no one could fix it, but dad. My son was in pain. And forgive me for being so selfish here, but the type of man he becomes depends in large part to how he sees the man that should be in his life the most--his dad. So he and I had a heart to heart. It wasn't easy. I had to tell him things he didn't want to hear. I told him how I felt my dad had deserted me, when he left me with someone else to raise me. I had to tell him how I felt I had done something wrong to keep my dad away. I couldn't understand how I could be that bad, or deserved to be one of the kids whose dad wasn't around. I told him how I hated my life, how I ached when I knew that I would never have the love given to me I saw other kids get, because my dad didn't think I mattered. I had to tell him that this was an image I lived with all my life, and I refused to give him that image. Perhaps he didn't want me in his life, but it would be his choice--not mine.
That pained him. I don't know why, but he wanted to run away. He didn't want to hear, but as I caught him, held him, gave him my pain and similarly was allowed to share his, we managed to reach an understanding. We'd get through this together. Me and my best buddy. Kids are resilient, but their hearts are not made of rubber. So as I talked with Jeremy, he understood I really loved him, as much, if not more than the other kids' dads. It was hard for him to understand why I had to be so concerned, and why I got to read the e-mails first. That way, he didn't get a chance to delete them, and perhaps make the teacher think it was okay with his mom and me for him to misbehave. Unlike other kids, his access to email is limited. And most of all, perhaps unlike the way some teachers feel toward some parents, Jeremy now knows they call because they care, and dad and mom react because we care. Now he just has learn to be ‘tight' with that, as I try to get ‘tight' with some of the dads who don't know what their sons might be doing.
Thanks son. I'm proud of you for making me realize the pain doesn't have to last forever.
Copyright © 2002
All rights reserved. FatherMag.com authors retain their right to republish elsewhere.