Nurturing the Best of His Nature

My son’s spirit does not conform to any recognized acceptable version of student, child, 11 year old, Scorpio, Dragon, boy, son, person.  I have felt the weight of his being since the moment I realized I was carrying him in my womb and freaked out on my cement patio with a Sierra Nevada and a cigarette in spite of fully intending him to be there with me.  I have felt the weight of his life in my own from the beginning and there has been no moment since that I have had rest.  This being carries all the potential of a general, an inventor, a mathematician, an artist.

Who am I to tell him who he’s meant to be?

My job as parent is fluid.  My job is to direct, inform, give context, love; encourage the wild and impossible, to ground all dreams in earth, soil, reality, and to encourage the ossification of dreams into solid form.  My job as a parent is to help my son become who he was born to become.  My job is to use nurture to make the very best of his nature.

It is not my job to destroy his nature with nurture.  It is not my job to impose on him unnatural practices just because they are natural for others.  It is not my job t0 visit on him control for control’s sake.

I’m the guide of his spirit.  I’m the banker of his conscience.  I’m the hurtle between him and the complete annihilation of teen-hood.  I’m his anchor, his trust, his oasis, his safe-house, the one place in the world that he knows he’ll be loved for who he is though he doesn’t conform to any recognizable social structure around him.

I will trip.  I will plummet.  I know my odds.  I understand my place.

Parenting isn’t a bid for control, it’s a bid for survival.  I frame parenting differently than most of my peers.  It is not my job to be boss but to be guide; to good decisions, to light, to kindness, to the present, to love, to knowledge, to conscience.  My son is not inferior, simply younger and less experienced.  I am his guide in this phase of his life and when he’s reached majority I will set him free and he can go on as he chooses.

Parenting isn’t power, it’s strategy to the best possible end game.  If parenting is all about winning, about fighting your children and WINNING, about asserting dominance, about controlling their destiny to the best of you ability – then you are deeply to be pitied.  For the obvious broken-ness of your spirit, you are to be pitied.

Parenting isn’t a contest.  If it’s a contest then you have yet to grow up yourself.  The only winning is to watch your child walk into the future with the best possible tools.  Reframe.  RE-FRAME.  You show your kid how to fly, you wax his wings, you launch him off a cliff and watch him drift off – left of center… he’s going to soar, he’s going to feel the euphoric draft of freedom, of fierce wind under his wings that takes him to new frontiers, places you aren’t allowed to follow… You are parent.  You are the frame that makes his pulse possible.

 Your best hope, your best strategy is to be the rock your kid comes back to again and again.  Your best strategy is to be the one person in the world your kid knows he can trust.  The one person who will love the underside of the lily.

I talked with my son tonight.  He is a neophyte.  He is a pupae.  He is not completely formed yet.  He is in transit.  But his spirit, if I’m being completely honest, has  been immutable.  He is the same person he emerged as on the torturous day I first gave him air.  He has been steady and true in who he is from the day he was born.  He is not a fickle being, not a fickle heart, not a fickle mind.

He does not conform to the comfortable placements of this world we inhabit.  He is a misfit.  He is hard as flint.  He is like bone against windows to spirit.  Hard and solid in his ambitions, in his willingness to morph, but with the spark of random curiosity that rules his mind unwittingly and allows him to evolve against his own calcification.  He is smart.  He is difficult.  He is challenging.  He will thrive where he is encouraged to be himself.  He will thrive where he is allowed to touch the boundaries of his own limitations.

I am nothing more than the window he thrashes his wings against to become free.


  1. angelina says:

    I have always felt the same about you – which is why I like reading about your own parenting escapades and challenges and wonderful moments of crazy happiness.

  2. EmmaC says:

    Geez, did you take that picture of the bird? It’s an amazing shot. Also, I love how you try so hard to understand your son and give him a balance of support and freedom.

  3. angelina says:

    I did take that picture – thanks! This parenting gig is a constant roller coaster ride for me but we’ve got through 11 years in fairly good shape. That’s got to count for something.

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