This morning I was finally the first one up and I had a moment of peace (sleeping family). A moment later, I was knocked up the side of the head with just how fragile life is and how grateful I should be to be sharing this time with Tony, Kip, Kelly, and Ralphie.
I logged on to my computer and learned of the tragic death of my friend John’s 19 year old son, Max. Those of you who have known me forever, know that John and I dated when I was in my early twenties. John and his three boys (all very sweet) visited us in Tahoe a few years back. Max was killed in a car accident.
As new parents we have enormous expectations of our children. We do all we can to make sure they are getting their homework done and doing their “outside reading.” Some of us spend years teaching our children how to kick a ball or bounce a ball or hit a ball, others make sure the trumpet or piano or flute is practiced for at least an hour a day, and some of us are practicing instruments on the way to ball practice.
With each year and each child there is a shift in expectations. Soon instead of aiming for Harvard, the focus is transferring into a UC, by the third child the hope is he or she will not have to retake Senior English in summer school . . . . It’s not that OUR expectations are shifting, it’s that our children are developing their own expectations which seem to be the exact inverse of how much we have tried to indoctrinate them with our own rules for living. Well worn parents realize that ultimately the goal is simply to keep our children alive until they figure out how to do it themselves.
Nature’s cruel joke is that teenagers are wired to push the limits of their existence. According to my mother, this is because their frontal lobes are not fully developed until well into their twenties, but you can’t tell them that. A full life to an 18 year old means something very different than a full life to a middle-aged mom.
That is the fine line we have been walking throughout our travels. At the moment Tony, Kip, and Ralphie are scuba diving. Ralphie and Kip cannot fathom why I don’t feel the need to spend 45 minutes, 30 feet below the water’s surface, for $70.00. I don’t understand why they cannot just sit on the porch of our beachside bungalow and enjoy the beautiful water view.
The boys have almost convinced Tony to go white water rafting in Chiang Mai, and they are working on getting him to go bungee jumping (in tailor made suits). Their current argument is “Dad, you are due for a midlife crisis.” Thankfully, Tony is fairly adamant against the bungee jump; arguing that he will have his midlife crisis when he reaches midlife.
I told the boys about Max this morning; tears filled Kip’s eyes. I asked him to please take care of his brother. In honor of Max, I am going to really try to appreciate the remaining time I have traveling with my family (the good, the bad, and the bungee jump).