Thursday, December 3, 2009

Exchange Rates in Little Eden

Yesterday I stumbled across what very well may have been the best combination of humor and truth I have read this year - and if it is not in fact #1 it has a well-established place on the medal stand as we enter December - while reading something on-line. The observation, which is so prescient and so wonderful that I wish I could claim it for my own, appeared courtesy of someone I knew in high school and have bumped into again out here in the middle of the ether.

Mark is a dad and judging by the photos I have seen of his children and one brief meeting with his daughter, I am confident in stating that his kids are considerably younger than my own. To my unscientifically-trained eye (although I did have Mister Kunszabo and his sidesaddle belt for 7th grade science at W-H) his kids appear to be elementary school-aged. From what he writes, he appears to be enjoying a time in the life of his family when his kids are old enough to perform certain rudimentary tasks for themselves but still young enough to be almost fully dependent upon Mom and Dad for the really cool stuff, which is simply a great time to be a parent.

A child reaches a point - and as one who was once a child and who is a parent - I painfully recall both voyages through it - that I like to call "The Canyon of Cool". Once your child's little ship of hope starts its voyage through the canyon you realize that to a large extent your view of their world has changed. One morning you are standing beside them, admiring the view shoulder-to-shoulder from the Lido deck. By nightfall, you realize that the view has changed. You are now shin-deep in confetti, thrown by those aboard ship at and to those left waving on the dock, which is where you realize you are as you watch the ship get smaller and smaller against the horizon line. I still recall the jerk I morphed into seemingly overnight towards my mother during my own trek. And while I cannot do anything to retrace those steps and erase any of the grief I gave her, I suspect that Mom - as parents everywhere may very well do - smiled just a bit as she watched me get left dockside by my own two upon the commencement of their own trek.

When your kids begin to grow and they start moving to their own beat - a beat that is likely to be not only wholly independent of your own but occasionally contradictory to your own simply to ensure that you are paying proper attention - it can be more than a bit disconcerting. Suddenly the one for whom you once represented the Universe's center now views you as alternatively an annoyance, an impediment and - occasionally - an embarrassment. When you are going through it together (or at loggerheads - one often is confused for the other) you may not think you are ever going to make it through to the other side.

Thankfully far more often than not you make it. It is most assuredly at times a "dark" ride. But you hold tight to one another and eventually even that old joint on the boardwalk stops the Tilt-A-Whirl from spinning 'round and 'round. You step off and you realize - once your head clears a bit - that the view has changed again. Your view of your child is not a profile shot. Rather, you have returned to a view similar to the one you had before they entered the Canyon - kinda, sorta side-by-side. Except perhaps they are a bit wiser and taller. And you? You are a bit grayer than you were way back when and (although I cannot claim to have any personal experience in this regard) a bit wiser yourself as well. And you begin to enjoy a relationship with your now-young adult offspring that you would not have thought possible only a few years earlier. A relationship that shall carry you for the rest of your life and shall position you perfectly to assist them when the time comes for them to grab a place on the dock.

Being a parent is a great gig. If you put your heart into it, it is the most rewarding gig you shall ever have. And all else you do with your life and in it will seem pale by comparison. A sentiment that I will never be able to express any better than Mark did:

A Dad is someone who carries pictures where his money used to be.

Indeed he is. And it is a currency exchange that we make - without regret and with pleasure. Well said Obes. Pitch perfect in fact.

-AK

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