My son would like to go to boarding school. I am floored. He’s a young twelve. Has been a young every age. But there you have it. He doesn’t want to miss one minute with everyone there, he says, “his future brothers.”
My co parent says, “I am so sad to see him go. I will miss him. But they can give him something I never will be able to – structure and consistency. No matter what I do. I will never be able to provide that.” I immediately think, “…and they will probably be able to offer him better nutrition.” I am a terrible and lazy cook. When I re-do our kitchen I am outfitting it with one of those fancy stoves with the red dials. Then, I am going to have the oven custom fit for a file cabinet – for all the takeout menus.
And then I look deeper at that moment of narcissistic turning from the subject of the other’s experience to the subject of my own. From their hurt to mine. “I am a terrible mother. He is going to be obese. If only I could provide a healthy meal beyond eggs, matzoh bri, and pancakes.” The last two being questionably healthy. My adult mind looks up. This may be the moment I have been looking for…to chart a new tributary off the river of self hate, out from under and so flowing around the stones of sadness and bereft-ly hopeless.
If I look further down the mind-line of this moment, I see an unfamiliar, dusty-rose square of time – filmy, misty. Air, really. Not so concrete. It occurs after the “I suck” frame. I look up and see the viciousness of father and mother raging at me, expressing their disgust with my breath, my width; questioning my soul and its purity. Questioning themselves: “Why did we have this child, we don’t even like each other?”
In the dusty-rose opaqueness, I realize they had no idea the damage they were wreaking. You can’t ask a blind man to see.
It’s the very reason that this boarding school on a hill might hold the moment of transformation for my beautiful son. To date, 9 years of formal schooling later, the teachers keep saying, “He really should be able to see this.” But he can’t. With his outrageously expansive mind, narrowing his hand to the mechanics of producing schoolwork, is the swiss cheese of effort – constant and continuous yet with holes that appear in a unpatternable, unpredictable, way. Things just fall through. Things like his sense of power; the recognition of his brilliance; the gorgeous core of him.
You can’t ask a blind man to see, but you can ask him to describe the colors and shapes of his mind. May this be the path forward for my boy. And for me, seeing their blindness, may it bring self-kindness and hope into view.
©Gabriella Strecker, 2016