Monday, August 30, 2004

No Glib Assurances

DoubtEverything? Nothing is as it first seems? Everything has shadows? Yes, I did write those words. I must remember this when considering my tentative emergence from the dark tunnel of teenage parenting. Resist any pull towards cockiness.

Interestingly, a friend expresses her own parental concerns. Angst, prompted by a daughter’s withdrawal and rudeness. Angst about potential futures. Rings a familiar sounding bell. And it is true, I feel huge relief that it is not my story this time. Equally, I experience empathy. I have worn similar shoes.

However, I won’t shower her with glib assurances that everything will work out in the end. As if it were a given. It is not. Nevertheless, I won’t deny that such a probability is highly likely.

I think that if I have anything to offer, it would be this: We are not our children and they are not us. It is hard to know when to take our hands off. How to hold our children in open palms. Recognise their seperateness. There seems to come a point when taking care of oneself requires letting go a little. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to feel negligent as a result. Letting go is a process. It does happen. Sooner or later. Consciously, at first. And later, increasingly unconsciously. And, thankfully, with a lesser measure of discomfort.

It strikes me as destructively unhelpful to forget the considered parental input of previous years. Helpful to consciously remind oneself that the influence of those considered endeavours, no matter how imperfect, is not simply dissolved by present difficulties.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Days That Just Leap Off the Page

There are days that just leap off the page. Like today. This afternoon I went outside. Sat in the sun. Head tilted backwards. Eyes shut. Facing into the warmth.

Smells: damp earth; spring blossom; sun on my wool jersey; cow pats in the paddock across the road; the close proximity of bush. Air shares its knowledge.

Birds let their presence be heard. Ornithological notes floating upon waves of sound. A scratching amongst dry leaves - stirring up grubs beneath a seemingly dead, mid-winter fig tree. The taffetta rustling of tuis. Kereru feasting in the green glossiness of a neighbour's puriri.

The sun went behind a cloud. I waited. And waited. When almost tempted to doubt its inevitable re-emergence, a reassuring warmth melted all distrust. Real-life application? I wondered.

Later, I went inside. Boiled rice. Re-heated eggplant, cooked with chili and cumin and coriander. Mid-afternoon lunch.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Reptilian Boots

My only child turns 18 today. A daughter. She wanted black, Italian patent leather boots, with extraordinarily long pointed toes. Possessing a strongly reptilian quality. I obliged. I like them. They're fantastic. I liked their pricetag too: $112 reduced from $360. I got off lightly I reckon. She got what she wanted. Sometimes life is surprisingly simple.

My own private choice of gift was a book. Fanny Flagg's Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. Recently, this child of mine has been exhibiting a powerful tendency towards literary nourishment. All those wonderful hours and hours spent reading to her as a child (the hopeful fostering of a love for reading) are finally bearing fruit. And oh how happy I feel to encourage such a pursuit.

Suddenly, parenthood is revealing itself as a treasure; un-muddied by the painful, complex angst that fed such writings as:


don't worry, you say
as if this strange familiar
were simply
an 'I do it' three-year-old
struggling with the laces of her shoes,
muttering juvenile expletives,
eschewing my help.