Saturday, June 11, 2016

June 10: Free to a Good Home, Campbell McGrath, "Emily and Walt"

I have been receiving some really kind comments on my posts regarding my sometimes difficult relationship with my teenage daughter.  Those comments have bolstered my lagging faith in my abilities as a father.  Even my therapist told me this past Tuesday that my daughter's job right now is to be difficult and frustrating.  "That's what teenagers do," she said.  "It's how they cope with their changing lives."

So, I am not a complete failure as a parent.  This I know.  My daughter is not the spawn of Satan.  This I know.  She is a typical, 15-year-old girl, full of anxiety and self-doubt and body issues.  And I am a typical father of a 15-year-old girl; I sometimes think about putting a sign outside my front door that says "Free to a good home."

Campbell McGrath has a poem about parents.  It doesn't make me feel any better about what's in store for me in the near future with my daughter, but it's a good poem.

Saint Marty better start setting aside some money for his daughter's college fund.  Or therapy fund.  She's going to need both.

Emily and Walt

by:  Campbell McGrath

I suppose we did not want for love.
They were considerate parents, if a bit aloof,

or more than a bit. He was a colossus
of enthusiasms, none of them us,

while she kissed our heads and mended socks
with a wistful, faraway look.

She might have been a little, well, daft.
And he—Allons, my little ones, he’d laugh,

then leave without us.
And those “friends” of his!

Anyway, he’s gone off to “discover
himself” in San Francisco, or wherever,

while she’s retired to the condo in Boca.
We worry, but she says she likes it in Florida;

she seems, almost, happy. I suppose they were
less caregivers than enablers,

they taught by example, reading for hours
in the draughty house and now the house is ours,

with its drawers full of junk and odd
lines of verse and stairs that ascend to God

knows where, belfries and gymnasia,
the chapel, the workshop, aviaries, atria—

we can never hope to fill it all.
Our voices are too small

for its silences, too weak to spawn an echo.
Sometimes, even now, when the night-wind blows

into the chimney flue
I start from my bed, calling out—“Hello,

Mom and Dad, is that you?”

Daddy and Mommy at the prom

1 comment:

  1. Yes, parents ideally provide the safety for children to learn how to be independent, by first making all the choices that might not necessarily play out well in the wider world. You're doing your job and then some :-)