Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dreams and Kalidescopes

We have all experienced days when at the end of the day we are starving, but we don't want to cook.  Writers have those days too.  We want to create something with words but we don't feel like writing.  There are also those days when we cook something that our family doesn't want to eat.  Tonight I am afraid that if I write what is on my mind and in my heart you wouldn't want to read it. 

Pain is a jealous companion.  It does not want to share you and once it has you, it seeks only to destroy you.

See what I mean?  So like a tired cook raiding the fridge for left overs, I give you something I wrote a long time ago.  It is for my book (if I ever finish it):

Everything I Needed to Know About Parenting, I Learned in Prison


Dreams and Kalidescopes

Recreation time (rec) is the time the inmates have to come out of their cells and exercise, and hang out, talk to their friends etc. Officers are expected to mingle with the population during this time, and basically maintain a presence.

One day during rec I stopped to talk to a couple inmates and one of them, supposing he was a quite a Romeo asked, "So, did you dream about me last night?"

"Yeah, I did actually." Suddenly I could feel a several pairs of eyes. I had not only his attention, but that of everyone standing within ear shot. Pleased with my audience, I continued.

"I had a dream that I was working on the perimeter again."

The perimeter is one of the jobs in prison where officers drive, in our case little Toyota trucks, slowly, no faster than 10 miles per hour, around the perimeter of the prison. As they drive they inspect the fence for any flaws and check the sand-traps for foot prints. They have a shotgun and a handgun to be used as needed.

"In my dream, I was driving along and I saw an inmate climbing down the outside of the fence. I shouted, 'Halt', three times, but the guy didn't stop. So I shot him.

"When I ran over to the body, it was you. I'm sorry about that, but you should have stopped when I asked you to."

Laughter exploded around us. "Man, she really dissed you!" his friends chided. That inmate and his friends never made lewd remarks to me again.

As parents we have certain dreams for our children. Quite often those dreams are influenced by our own unfulfilled goals and dreams. Sometimes they are simply dreams about the kind of parent we want to be, and the way our children will behave.

My children all have seemed determined from the beginning to tell me to keep my dreams to myself! Well, not all my dreams, but enough of them. For example, I love to sing. One of my dreams was to sing lullabies to my babies. I had this picture in my mind of a mother singing and rocking her baby to sleep. I was mesmerized with the idea but when my first child was fussing and I started to sing, he cried harder! I tried different songs, but the only thing I accomplished was to infuriate him more. When I stopped he cried less. So I quit singing for a few months. Then I tried again. As soon as he was old enough, he would reach up and put his hand over my mouth if I started singing. I didn't think my singing was that bad! I surrendered and stopped trying to sing to him. Later when I had my second child, I tried again, with similar disappointing results. Sheesh. Even today it is a joke in our family. If I start singing my favorite Broadway tune, "I am I Don Quixote, the Lord of La Mancha" at the top of my lungs, the whole family gangs up on me trying in to make me stop. Spoil sports!!!

There were other dashed dreams as well. For example, my dream to teach them to speak Spanish, which I had the wonderful opportunity to learn and wanted to pass on is still unrealized. Another disappointment came when I signed a couple of the older kids up for a program called Destination Imagination. I thought they would love and it would be a terrific experience for them. When they both informed me that they were "bored" and wanted to drop out, I was dismayed. Not only because I thought it was such a great opportunity, but it is a team effort and I didn't want them to let down their team. I didn't think boredom was a reasonable excuse to quit either. I did the best "Mom Guilt Trip" I could muster, I even sic'd their dad on them, but to no avail. In the end, they still wanted to quit, and realizing that if their heart wasn't in it, they would not be able to give their best effort to the team, I gave them permission to quit. Their team did fine without them winning their State competition and going to the National competition. I'm thrilled for the team, but still bummed that my kids didn't 'share the dream'.

I realize these are minor things, but having experienced them, I dread the day when they all start dating, and, heaven forbid, get married. Will I be disappointed again when they choose a spouse who is different than I would have chosen? And what about school? I always wanted to go to college. I planned for college. I had the grades, but not the money. Naturally, I want my children to go to college, but will they? So many other dreams, waiting to be fulfilled or deflated.

I have to say though, even though some of my dreams for my children have been unrealized, they have also surprised and pleased me in so many other ways. As they grow and develop, their talents are becoming evident, certain personality traits are beginning to emerge. Sometimes it feels like parenting is a kaleidoscope. As you hold it to the light and twist it amazing patterns emerge. You can't control the patterns, but each one is beautiful and leaves you wanting more.

I like to think of my dreams for my children now, not so much in details as in "they will do this" or "they will do that", but that each child is a kaleidoscope of possibilities, and my part is to show them the light and love them then to enjoy the beautiful patterns as they emerge.

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