AS A NEW parent thinking about the hard talks I’d have to have someday with my young teenager, I envisioned such topics as peer pressure, sex, booze, and drugs. If only. Twice in the last few days, the conversations J. and I have had with R. have made those subjects look as benign as bubble gum and lollipops.
Last week we had to tell R. that the mother of one of her classmates had been fatally shot in a domestic situation. This awful news came on the heels of the disappearance of a local 13-year-old who his family said was upset over an email from school detailing academic troubles. That compelled us to tell R. that no matter how bad things ever seemed to get, running away wouldn’t help things — that she could count on us to stand by her, no matter what.
The 13-year-old was found dead earlier today just a few hundred yards from his house. Details about his passing certainly will emerge in the days to come, but the bottom line is a second tragedy that, like the first, cuts too close to home.
Parenthood is nearly constant in its chaos. Things happen that you never, ever anticipated; hell, things happen that you never, ever would have had reason to anticipate. You try to plan for the bumps in the road you know are coming — some of them minor jostles, others rib-rattling blowouts — but it simply is not humanly possible to be ready for every damn thing that comes your family’s way. And you’re left wondering how to protect your kids and how to prepare them, when you don’t even know what it is you’re protecting them from and preparing them for.
None of the parenting books has a chapter on that.
My only solace will be extra-long hugs tonight. R. and Q. won’t know why the squeezes are more intense. They won’t know that it’s for me more than for them. | DL