I remember my mother explaining to me the sort of man I should marry. “Leslie,” she said when I was around 12 years old and only just starting to look at boys curiously, “The sort of man that is good for marriage is one that has plants in his apartment, can’t dance well, and wears tassel shoes.”
I found out a few months ago that my daughter identifies herself as bisexual, or more specifically, pansexual, but I had to look that up because I really don’t understand the difference. This information was secondary to the suicide threats and other information that flooded the front of the queue of New Things I’m Learning About My Daughter.
The beautiful thing about learning So Many New Things About My Daughter was that I could sit down with her at the table that day, iPad in hand, and look her in the eyes, all of her secrets now in my own mind and heart and still on the device between my hands and honestly tell her, “I’ve read everything you’ve said over the last few months and there is nothing here that makes me not love you. Now. Can we talk openly? Because I’m here and I’m not going anywhere and you’re not in trouble at all.”
I don’t know about your children, but mine seem to have a very small memory for some things and an elephant-like memory for others. I look at them and wonder where this comes from but then I remember a conversation I had a few hours ago about something I’d completely forgotten while bitching about something I can’t let go of.
Let’s call this “Human.”
Before I go in to a long winded update, here are a few things to know immediately:
- http://www.crisistextline.org/ This is a teen-age text line available for shy teens who might reach out via text but not phone. Text HOME to 741741
For parents: Call 9-1-1 if your teen has a plan for suicide and has a willingness to follow through and will not go with you to the ER. Do not be ashamed. None of the staff will fault you for this, in fact, they will hug you. It's ok. You're not alone. They're not alone. Ok? Ok. Now, I can let you know how our experience is, so long as everyone is safe.
When you left the hospital with your first born, you joked about how ridiculous it is they let you take this entire human home as if you have any clue what you’re doing. She seems so fragile compared to every car on the road between the hospital and home and HOW THE HELL LONG IS THIS DRIVE because it wasn’t nearly as long from the house to the hospital before.
He slammed against the large window and flew backwards in what I personified as frustration. “How did he get in?” I ask the table of strangers all working near me. “The front door,” a woman answers from the other end. We all laugh. Of course! He took the same way in as the rest of us.
Twenty minutes later I’m standing in the back near the bathroom. The bird flutters between windows, pecking at each and quizzically wondering how to get on the other side. I’m assuming he feels this way, at least. I recognize that feeling.
I can’t tell you how many times I hear the Lost in Translation quote in my head. It doesn’t sound like the movie, it sounds like a dear friend of mine from my First Real Job at Portland Public Schools; “But they learn how to walk, and they learn how to talk… and you want to be with them. And they turn out to be the most delightful people you will ever meet in your life.”
Jenna told me this when her own baby was only a few years old. I remember so vividly because I hadn’t had children yet, but the idea stuck with a tar-like dignity that warms in the sun on certain occasions.
When I was 7year old, we sat in the bathroom during Hurricane Alicia. I was living in Houston with my parents and very tiny sister, who was only 2 at the time, sleeping quietly in the safest area of the house: under the bathroom sink.
My parents listened to the weather on a battery powered radio while the walls shook and tornadoes clamored around the neighborhood. We walked in to the eye of the storm where we found our fence down the street at our neighbor’s house, ten doors down.