Monday, December 7, 2009

Parents and Children

Marty, Nikkie and I had a very pleasant lunch the other day with a long time friend we should call Sue, because that's her name, Sue.

Sue and Pete are great friends of ours. They moved to Waco about the same time we did, joined the same church and have children roughly the same age as ours. They are the family we would ski with; they are the family we accidently ran into in Washington D.C. one spring break. Sue is our designated third party, she is the local name I put down in case of emergency because I suspect Sue could find you anywhere or get almost anything done. I've seen her do it. All those years as a Navy wife paid off for her.

Sue is the mother of three and is the Mother who, when my 1st grade daughter forgot she needed to wear a dress to school for a concert and Erin could not get hold of either of her birth parents, Erin shanghaied Sue to take her home and let her change. Sue is a fellow progressive in the ocean of conservatism that is Waco. Sue and Marty battled adolescence together. Sue is experienced at most everything, or at least all things we can talk about in polite circles. Sue is one of the world’s great conversationalists, always with a thought or opinion.

Lunch was good and somehow we got to talking about happiness and satisfaction in life. Somehow we got to a point where I said, borrowing from a movie quote; we all will always be both children to our parents and parents to our children, always. Marty always liked to call our kids "faux adults". I suspect my parents still think that about us.

When you grow up, whatever grown up is, you might think your parent's influence would begin to wane. I don't think so. Maybe it's Fathers and sons but I will always be trying to earn and maintain my Father's respect, approval and admiration. It's that important to me. Dad never acted like he was ever disappointed in anything I did, but to this day I still measure my decisions with "what would Dad think".

My father-in-law once told Marty and I that as long as children care what their parents think -- you got it made. Me, I always cared what my parents thought of me, still do. I didn't avoid bad situations simply out of moral direction, but I never, ever wanted to disappoint the parental units.

Sue made the point that when you loose your parents part of the "always a child" goes away. She lost her Mother and Father years ago. I don't know, both of my parents are still alive and I don't know if I will ever feel completely grown up. You would think a GrandPa would feel like an adult, I don't...

I suspect Sue is right to a great deal. But, I have to say, Marty's Father passed away about five years ago and I firmly believe he still has a profound influence on Marty. To some degree, I think she has never given up on her quest for recovery out of respect for her Dad. As I've said before, she hears her Father's words in our wind chimes. I once asked what he was saying through the chimes and she said, "Keep trying, I'm proud of you." Alive or not Arty is still with her and she still wants him to be proud of her.

It's a funny thing seeing your children get older and more mature. It's extremely gratifying to see them work at jobs, start their families and move on through life. I would tell both of them that they have the respect and love of their parents. I would say to both of them they meet our approval. I would say to both of them, just as I'm sure my parents would say to me, I know you will make right decisions about most things, most of the time, and when you don't we will still approve of you and be proud of who you are. I say that as a parent and a child.

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