A feeling of power descends upon us when we become parents. The birth of a child in a family is a time of celebration. It is an inter-generational event, one in which the proud parents present the future to both the present and the past. All attention is focused upon the newborn.
Whether a boy or a girl, the child is joy, and a proclamation, all at once. The mother receives deserved fanfare for having successfully delivered the future generation of a dynasty. The father receives confirmation that he matters, that he has sired someone of the next generation. Don’t take this literally. Fathers and mothers of adopted children and stepchildren claim this right at well. Realize that there is something very special about birth for the parents.
I Passed the Test
Children who are fortunate to have their parents, at least one parent, or any adult to raise them in a loving and nurturing home, acquire an expectation that they should do something with their lives to affirm to those parents that they were worth the effort. In nature, the young will often bring their first kill home to show their parents that they learned how to feed themselves. That is what I describe here. Mom, Dad, I can never thank you enough for feeding and caring for me. Look at what I have done! I have produced a child! Your legacy will live on! Watch now. I will show you how I can be a great parent like you!
The Kid has a Vote
The baby challenges us. Sure, he/she is cute as bug’s ear, is happy to be with us, reminds us of the joy of play, and gives us the wondrous gift of unrestrained love. But, he/she demands to be fed, to be held, and to be cleaned even as he/she produces ever greater loads of the most foul-smelling bile that we have ever encountered! We begin to wonder how our parents got through this. There is more to come, always more and different, as the baby becomes a toddler, a youngster, a tween, a teen, and a young adult. We are surprised how vulnerable he/she is at all of those ages. Mom, Dad, was I like that? It gets harder for us.
We want the child to have the best, and to be the best. Yet, we have so many responsibilities, and why won’t he/she listen to what I tell him/her to do? We see hints, glimpses of our child learning, applying what he/she has learned, and becoming an adult, but we do not always recognize the hints, especially not with the first child.
A Rare Thing
I was blessed to have a baby man. Nine years later, Babes was born. Even though they were not close in age, brother and sister bonded, and they have always remained close, all the way into their adulthood. I coached all of my son’s sports. One day, I recall how our soccer team fought its way to win the next level in a tournament. We might win the trophy this year. He had done his part, but had not led the advances. I wanted him to lead. To me, the sports were tests, trials to learn how to excel. On that day, I got a glimpse that the game was simply fun to him. He was with his friends, and he remembers the day as one when the sun warmed his face while his team was victorious.
I wondered, shouldn’t I just be happy when my children are happy? Was he teaching me this? On the trip home from the game, something spectacular happened. We had played a team at their rural location. Our path home was a country road that turned hills in twists and winding turns, amidst meadows and forests. I topped a small hill, and saw a bobcat step out of the road ahead, into a meadow. She was magnificent!
No other cars followed, and none approached. I eased my car to the shoulder to give my children a look at the elusive hunter, which stood her ground exactly where I saw her. The gold in her gold-and-white fur was so bright in the sunlight that her coat seemed to be woven with the precious metal. My son was mesmerized as I directed him to see the tiny tufts of hair at her ears and the shape of her hypnotizing, whiskered face. I told both of my children all that I knew about the habits and lore of the bobcat, which is so rarely seen that it has been ascribed as having mythical qualities. My son engaged me in a collegial discussion! He had never done that before. My daughter repeated, “Wow! Bobcat!” She was only two-years-old. She strained to see the elusive predator from her car seat, which was set centrally in the backseat of my car. We enjoyed our prize for a full three minutes before she sprinted across the meadow on powerful legs, showing us her black-tipped stubby tail. She melted into the forest. My son said that he could not wait to get home to tell Mom about the bobcat. I began to drive off. As I did, I felt a tiny tug at my right elbow. Babes had leaned forward to grab the fabric of my shirt. I adjusted my rear view mirror, and saw that she wanted to ask me something. My two-year-old was about to engage me in a collegial discussion too. I could see it on her face! She asked her question. “How you know that cat’s name is Bob?”