Tag Archives: parenting

I can’t stop thinking about Adam Lanza.

19 Dec

We know so little. Of what we know, these facts haunt me:

His family moved to Newtown in ’98.

He was 20 when he died, meaning he was 6, a first grader, that first year in a new school.

Family friends and relatives say he had Asperger’s Syndrome.

He was withdrawn, socially awkward, painfully shy.

His mother eventually pulled him out of school to home school him.

She valued, owned and trained Adam in, the use of guns.

If all but that last fact were true, I can’t help but believe the 26 killed at Sandy Hook, and possibly Nancy herself would be alive today. I say that because there are so many children, painfully awkward, who struggle in school due to lack of understanding and acceptance. There are many mothers, like Nancy Lanza, like me, who fight with school staff and administration to make school a better, more understanding and accepting place for our ASD children.

Did she finally pull him out because she could not get the accommodations he needed? Or even with accommodations and great cooperative work between the school and the parents, was it too late for Adam to feel accepted, understood, emotionally safe in that building?

What if every time Adam passed that school he felt anew the pain of being different, of standing on the sidelines while the other carefree first graders made friends, played games, laughed and interacted with ease? What if, as his own world became smaller, the knowledge that those other childrens’ worlds stretched out invitingly before them became unbearable?

Oh, what if there were no guns in that home, no family gun hobby, no reason for Adam to ever consider using guns as a way of expressing his years of pain and isolation?

Reports indicate Nancy Lanza was a loving mother who tried to move heaven and earth to get her son what he needed. I think Adam probably loved her very much. I would not be surprised to find he killed her first, while she slept, with four bullets, to spare her the agony of what he was about to do; to spare her the loss of her son and the knowledge of his actions.

I don’t know anything, just those few facts with which I started. I realize I am conjuring a motive and trajectory all on my own, with nothing to back it up.

But I also know that there are so many kids who have experienced such similar rejection and isolation; so many parents who have torn their hair out trying to understand and help their children. Even when their efforts fail, even if their children jump off a bridge or hang themselves, two dozen innocents do not go with them.

Oh Children, by Kahlil Gibran

10 Nov

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

What I love about our house

10 Nov

My memory of seeing it for the first time; how it whispered “You found me – you’re home.”

The subsequent 20 years of memories of the boys growing up playing on it’s gleaming wooden floors, running up and down the stairs, hollering down the clothes chute; the Christmas morning the three of us took turns sliding down the stairs in their new snow saucers

All the Christmas mornings, rainy fall days, winter evenings cozy around the fireplace.

The love we’ve made in it, the fights we’ve had in it.

The solid core wood doors throughout that take muscle to open and close. I have practically broken a few hollow doors in cheaper homes by hauling them open with excessive force

Our neighbors, both sides, all up and down the block and behind us on the other side of the alley. We are close geographically (city blocks) AND totally look out for each other. We have seen each others’ kids grow up, parents die, husbands move out. We gather informally in each others’ homes the first Friday evening of every month for wine, appetizers and conversation. We catch each others’ escaped dogs, lend each other books, eggs, wrenches, shop vacs and marine/motorcycle expertise.

The screened in front porch with bead board ceiling which I “designed” by sketching it out on paper and got to see come to life by a talented construction team.

The perennial gardens I scratched out from the roots (literally, with a rented rototiller) and have watched grow and spread to maturity.

The cardinals that hang in the backyard all summer, drinking from our dolphin fountain. The wrens who return each spring to nest in the purple birdhouse Cole made in kindergarten which hangs on the southern corner of the front porch.

The view of the harvest moon out the study window in autumn.

The funny hum the upstairs toilet makes after each flush. Sometimes I harmonize with it.

The beautiful, 90 year old wood trim in the livingroom and diningroom which my ex and I took down, stripped and stained and put back up, fighting the entire time.

The “Rasta Room” in the finished attic that Vini and I made when we reunited after our separation.

The way the sun streams in the kitchen windows while we prepare supper in the evenings, practically blinding us and showing me when the windows need cleaning.

The tiki hut in the backyard where we grill, drink Lambrusco and hang out in the summertime, designed and built by Vini and a friend.

I could go on and on and on and on.

Written for my dad March 11. Happy Birthday Daddy.

10 Nov

That sounds so strange even to type. You died when I was 12, but you and Mom divorced before I turned one. You were 44 when I was born so would have turned 95 today- wow.

I have memories of you, but most are stories others told me. One is of you sleeping fully dressed during my infancy, boots at the ready at the foot of your bed. You slept like this so you could scoop me up and rush me to emergency and the oxygen tent when I turned blue and asthmatic, apparently frequently enough for you to get the routine down pat. Thank you, Daddy. I still have asthma today but I am still here, because you were my fireman.

Another is of Mom telling me how much you loved to dance. That makes me smile, because I know you passed that onto me, and somehow even made sure I picked Vini so I would have someone to dance with.

I remember three things for myself:

The time you took me to your sister’s farm and I picked ferns. She gave me a Mason jar with water to take them home in. Mom smashed the jar on the front step after you drove away, my punishment for enjoying my time with you.

The time you took me up in a rented two-person plane, flying me (I never knew you could fly until that day; you learned in the Korean War) over my town, pointing out my house, my school. To the day Mom died I never told her. It is still our secret, Daddy.

The time you died, and I went to your funeral, and I was afraid to cry when they played Taps though I wanted to so badly, though my eyes were burning and my throat filled with a giant lump. I knew better. Crying would make Mom mad. I was not supposed to cry for you. I was not supposed to love you.

I am sorry we never really knew each other, Daddy. Really sorry. I hope we remedy that someday.

Child of Mine

10 Nov

Ooh boy – nothing like being reduced to tears on the drive into work! Dam*n cold day for tears, too – one runs the risk of them freezing to one’s face.

MPR’s “The Current” played that song this morning. It was dedicated by a mom to her returning adult daughter, home in time for the holidays and her dad’s retirement party. The DJ said how it didn’t seem to matter how old a child gets, they still love this song, as do their parents.

Then it started. And I was no longer driving up 50th in my Audi TT, I was sitting on the edge of Cole’s bed singing to him, along with the song playing on his CD player. It was one of a bunch of songs on this CD that entertained us on our cross country drive to the Jersey Shore (“You’ve got to give a little love, have a little hope, make this world a little better…”). The kids were strapped in the back of my dear old Celica convertible, slathered to the 9s (more like the 50s!) in sunblock, shades on, jammin’. The CD was on full blast to compete with the wind and the interstate truck traffic. We sang our hearts out.

Cole inherited the CD; it was in his room and he listened to it darn near every night for months. When I would check on him, if that song was on or about to come on I would sit on the edge of the bed and sing along, quietly, so as not to wake him up. I could never do that with Max; much as I might want to, he would awaken with a start. All my singing to him had to be during waking hours! There was no sneaking in and out of his room – even now as a lanky 6’3″ teenager, he senses when I so much as crack the door an inch to see if he’s sleeping.

Another song from that CD, another moment: Sitting outside the offices of the clinic we visited every week for about a year, over in the Como neighborhood behind the fairgrounds. Paul McCartney’s version of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. We would eagerly wait for the chorus, and then 8 year old Max, 3 year old Cole and – hmm – probably 10 year old Mom would drown Paul out, substituting our much cleverer version over his interminable, 22 la la’s in a row: “You can hear them saying La La, Dipsy, Tinky Winky and Po… NuNu… NARRATOR…and the baby sun (and the baby sun)”

But Child of Mine. I know that song must tug at every parent’s heart, must feel so perfectly appropriate for their own relationship with their own child. I am not narcisstic enough to imagine otherwise, and yet – the line “I know you will be honest if you can’t always be kind” was written for me to sing to Max. Oh, how I would tell myself in those days of struggle; comfort myself as the tears streamed that while Max might never learn how to ride that mysterious, wobbly bike of sociability, “He will never lie”. That tiny yet noble certainty, the one ray of light blazing through our clouds. How far he has come. Riding that bike, and a real one, with agility and ease, making his way. He still isn’t always kind, but who is? And even those unkind moments stem from his core honesty, his inability to sugarcoat – for to sugarcoat is to dilute the essence of a fact. And facts are the bones of life.

As much as I used to straighten up with brave pride at that line about honesty, I bawled like a baby at the bridge. How to tell him that the world didn’t mean to be cruel, didn’t try to make it so hard just to even BE? How to keep his spirit strong when just getting through one day at a time was such a struggle? I didn’t know. I still don’t. But somehow he – and I – have come out the other side relatively intact.

Child of mine. Oh yes sweet darling, so glad you are a child of mine.

Carole King

Child of mine

Although you see the world different than me
Sometimes I can touch upon the wonders that you see
All the new colors and pictures you’ve designed
Oh yes sweet darling so glad you are a child of mine.

Child of mine, child of mine, oh yes sweet darling
So glad you are a child of mine.

You don’t need direction, you know which way to go,
And I don’t want to hold you back I just want to watch you grow.
You’re the one who taught me you don’t have to look behind.
Oh yes sweet darling, so glad you are a child of mine.

Child of mine child of mine, oh yes sweet darling
So glad you are a child of mine.

Nobody’s gonna kill your dreams
Or tell you how to live your life.
There’ll always be people who make it hard for a while,
But you’ll change their heads when they see you smile.

The times you were born in may not have been the best,
But you can make the times to come better than the rest.
I know you will be honest if you can’t always be kind,
Oh yes sweet darling, so glad you are a child of mine.