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Talking To Parents

December 14, 2017

 

Two mornings ago I woke up and went for a walk in a quiet, orderly Houston, TX. neighborhood. We stayed the night with old friends. Mostly we stay in state parks so sleeping in a bed in the heart of Houston felt a little strange, even after a few weeks of traveling in the pod which is surprisingly cozy and private. Mornings I wake up looking out a window at something new. This morning it was an ancient tree. Yesterday it was a father and two sons playing catch in the street before school.

So I walked toward them. As I walked by, I said, “no school today?” to the dad who answered in his thick Texan drawl said, “Just heading out.” I felt like I had trespassed a little.

I thought how those boys would have a better day at school because their dad took the time to “play” with them before school. Their hair was combed neatly back, and they wore shorts even though it was a brisk 50 degrees.

When I walked past the younger son, who was maybe 6 or so, I said something like, “this is better than school I bet.” He looked up at me like I was speaking a foreign language. Then he smiled and looked over at his dad.

By the time I made it to the end of the street, the soft plop of the ball landing in mitts was replaced with a harsh, “Goddammnit, go get that ball. That was an easy one.”

I resisted with all my might to turn around and glare at this dad who had wrecked my early morning storyline about this sweet father/sons moment. And then I laughed aloud. Literally. Nothing is ever what it seems at first glance. No matter how hard we work to contort ourselves into the picture of idyllic family life, families are complicated.

We see what we want to see and I wanted to see love and connection but what I walked away thinking was how much that dad wanted his sons to succeed. Why? Well, I don't know. That's his story. But one I think is very interesting. If only I could interview him. I would ask him, "How has parenting helped you grow as a human being?"

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