Thursday, February 24, 2005

. . . one little Indian boy. . . . .

I used to panic when my children walked around to the back yard where I couldn't see them for a few seconds. We lived out in the country. There were snakes. There were wasps. There were rabid possums, and chipmunks on crack, and too-friendly racoons. There might be kidnappers lurking behind the trees. There were Anya's bunnies.

I worried about everything. I was so insecure as a young mother; I took everything personally. I was so afraid of some kind of harm coming to my children, that I followed them around the yard as they tried to play. I never let them out of my sight.

Our small country road is so full of sharp twists and turns, and the traffic is so heavy for such a sparsely populated area, that we never did allow Zappa to ride his bicycle on it. He had to sneak around and do it behind our backs.

One of the many, many things I did learn was that the things you don't allow your children to do out of sheer fear of the unknown, are usually simple harmless things that they will do anyway the minute you aren't looking. The sooner you realize that, and let go a little, the better off you will all be, both emotionally and physically. Just be sure they know the rules.

All those years of knowing where they were and what they were doing, every second of the day or night, and today, as I write, both of my children are. . . . well, I'm not exactly sure where they are.

Belle is flying out to northern California today. She gave me her flight information, but I think I wrote a grocery list on it and threw it away. Oh well. She'll get there. She always does. She was born with a packed suitcase and an airport boarding pass. Sometimes, she is so happy-go-lucky, that I wonder about her maturity. But it's there, too; and it always comes out whenever maturity is necessary. Whenever I picture her in my mind, she's always smiling.

Her high school senior picture is on the wall in the living room. She's smiling in that picture, too. But when I look at it closely, I can see something else. I can see a look in her eyes that reminds me that on the very morning that picture was taken, one of her good friends was killed in a highway accident.

Belle and her friends cried all day over her. The people at the photography studio had to work overtime to get the girls fixed up so their pictures wouldn't show their grief. They did a good job. Only we mothers can see it.

Zappa was always the home-loving mommy-hugging little boy, until he entered high school and became cool.

It was a long wait for me, till he became even cooler, therefore allowing him to be all mommy-hugging again at his age.

My point is, I went from knowing every single tiny thing about them, to knowing almost nothing.

Belle will be stopping over in at least two states. Which ones were they? I don't remember. This is the girl whose plane was layed-over for HOURS in Belgium and she didn't tell me because she knew I would worry. This is the girl whose return flight from Italy was delayed for HOURS because of a suspicious passenger, while I was waiting in the airport in Chicago watching the clock and picturing her being cut out of the underbelly of a great white shark. She's fearless. Too fearless. This is almost funny, because as a small child, she was afraid of everything. Everything. Possibly because her mother followed her around all the time. She was afraid of KITTENS, for crying out loud. And now she's this cat-loving world traveller who loves living out of a suitcase and can find anything without even using a map.

Zappa hasn't travelled much. He's still in college, and just hasn't had the same chances. It's taken him longer to grow up, than it did his sister. There are many reasons for that.

Zappa had the same best friend from day one of kindergarten until the summer before his sophomore year in high school. Both boys were straight A students, student council, honor roll, stud muffins, etc. Inseparable.

And on the day after Zappa's fifteenth birthday, his best friend sat down at his desk, in his room, and wrote a letter to his parents. Then, he took a gun and blew his brains out. They had to repaint the room. Zappa never did get over it, not entirely. Things took a downward spiral for several years. He has many good friends now, but no one 'best' friend. That, I think, will always and only be Joey.

He, and some of those good friends, are, as I type, at the funeral of still another friend. Another suicide. Zappa has seen three friends die, and two were suicides. He is 24 years old.

What's happening to our world? Why are these handsome well-adjusted intelligent beloved young men doing this? Where did we go wrong? DID we go wrong? When does the influence of the parents leave off, and when do independent individual free-will decisions kick in?

We as parents love our children so deeply and so dearly, that we would cut off our limbs if we thought it would prevent a single tear from falling. We do our best to protect them, and then, as Katie in "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" states, 'they walk out the door and straight into the heartbreak and danger and betrayal we would have done anything, ANYTHING, to save them from." (I can't remember that exact quote, but that's close enough.)

We know we can't protect them from everything; we know we shouldn't even try, because life can be hard, and they need to know how to deal with it. But wouldn't it be wonderful, if we really could save them from all the heartache we've known, ourselves?

Then again, it is learning to deal with ALL aspects of life, that makes us worthy.

I don't know the answers. I don't even know all the questions.

One thing I do know, however, is that we have to keep on keeping on.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 3:40 PM | |


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