Monday, May 01, 2006

Dear Readers,

I invite you to read this newly revised chapter 4a from my book in progress entitled In Memory of Ben. As always I would very much appreciate your written response if any that you may post in the comments feature of this blog.

Chapter 4a: A Glimpse Forward in Time

Have you ever wondered about the things we do for our children? Right or wrong, well intended though misguided and however utterly ineffectual, they often reaffirm the truism that as parents we too do the "darndest” things.

It is probably best explained by and attributed to our "nesting" instinct-that our first obligation is to protect our children-to enable them not only to defend and protect themselves but also to keep them out of harm's way-both when they are still very young but even after they have done some growing up.

So it was that I tried to interest Ben in playing hockey with a group of Jewish men-one of whom I knew from my synagogue. They were not so much a team as simply a group of guys who enjoyed the "rough and tumble" of ice hockey. "Perfect!" I thought for Ben: skating at which he had always excelled, hard checking against the boards, slap shots ... what could be better? Problem was that this group practiced twice a week at 10:00 p.m., but for several weeks, Ben and I went-he played, I watched and on occasion fell asleep in the stands. Unhappily it did not last beyond two months or so, but back to my motive for a bit.

How was this an example of my "nesting" instinct?

Ben had always been very athletically oriented. My intent was to try to show him ways by which he might maximize his strengths with the added benefit that more regular physical exertion would serve him well as a diabetic. Secondly, I was also trying to demonstrate that there were other "friends choices" out there which, I thought, were more wholesome than Ben's "friends choices"!

You may ask:

‘What was the outcome of all of this “parental engineering’?

Simply put … whenever I tried to make a choice for Ben, it failed-no matter how parentally pure my motive. He invariably reverted to his choices. Interestingly, Ben's mom used to say of him that he had always been a very cautious child-even from his earliest years. The kind of person who carefully surveys a new situation, looking it over, scrutinizing it in an attempt to determine if it seems right for him. All well and good, one might say! Deliberate, cautious in his moves, like playing chess with life itself.

However, as parents-no matter how much we may both encourage and applaud self-reliance in our children, a "stand-up" approach-it is often a heartbreaker to see-that despite the fact that we do know better ... life having taught us. Our children, eager and determined to exercise their autonomy, often end up making poor choices, their own choices indeed but poor ones nevertheless.

So, what does one do if a child is tending in the wrong direction?

Love him then more demonstrably than ever before! Let your actions define both the intent and meaning of "unconditional love" though tempered by discipline, structure and appropriate consequences should he require them.


Anonymous said...

your penmanship is something to be envied. I don't know how much time I have left to read and write your work so I am just going to (possibly erroneously say) your son's up-start was much like mine. You should read a book called "the Scribe." it's fiction, just came out. I too played hockey for two months. Chose the wrong friends. I don't know how long your son lived, got to live? In your writings -in what you wrote in hindsight- you seem like a father I would have been proud to have called my own. I have no right to put a value on life. But life is a mystery and sometimes curses are blessings in disguise.

Alan aka Avrum ben Avrum said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for your time, interest and kind words. I do appreciate them!