Once and for All

Perhaps it was the news about blood sugar that moved the Parent Imperfect to encourage Vince to take a bike ride with him yesterday. Vince had little interest in the idea, but hearing the sense of urgency in his father’s voice, he relented. They spent about an hour going up and down the hills of the Arboretum, mostly off the beaten paths.

The PI had all he could do to keep up with the Son, which had never been the case before. Maybe it was the pitiful state of the PI’s Trek, or maybe it was the lingering pain in his knees after last week’s part way trip up Mt. Katahdin. More likely, it was the fact that over this summer V. has simply overtaken the old man, once and for all. Huffing and puffing up the hills behind Vince, the PI noticed that, in addition to getting even taller, the young man was thickening in places…becoming someone else, physically.

That “becoming” is, of course, not limited to his chest. The independence being nourished by spending longer periods of time on his own if making K less amenable to his parents’ apparent desire to control what he does and who he does it with (for his own good, of course). What was a struggle at times last year may well escalate in the coming school year unless everyone can “become someone else.”

The PI was reminded of a poem that Liz found for him at the time of his very first Father’s Day in 1997. She printed the poem and mounted it alongside a picture of the chubby little boy perched in his father’s arms. It still sits on Vince’s desk.

A Poem for My Son

I seem to know all about you:

your time, your place, your name,

the clean Indian-wheat color of your skin,

your unpolished words.

But I know that there are also sounds

that you do not know, shapes

that you wouldn’t recognize.

For instance, the owl’s lean cry,

or the sea at Puri,

during a small moon’s night.

And at this hour, when

you are breathing so quietly

beside your mother,

I seem to hear a remote whisper

that almost tells me

that you are not mine.

I hear the owl’s cry,

the gentle, expanding roar of the blue waters of Puri.

But I know where my night presently sleeps

undisturbed by every thought

so peacefully.

Bibhu Padhi


At this moment, Vince is seated in front of a computer, writing a report on one of his summer reading books, not so peacefully. Getting focused on writing about The Power of One is hugely difficult for him, but he’s doing it. Vince is using a beautiful Sunday AM for that purpose because he wants to see a movie with a friend in the afternoon. The family can survive another year of his presence at the nation’s oldest public school if he can become much more self-reliant and self-motivated around school. He seems to want to do that, but must still clear a few hurdles to get there. Perhaps one form of self-reliance relies upon another.

This past week, the list-serv connecting parents of students at Vince’s school featured a long and spirited exchange about parent-teacher relations at the school. The exchange, which clearly irritated some parents, only confirmed that the faculty at the nation’s oldest public school is just as much of a mixed bag as the faculty at any other school in the system. It also confirmed that the PI and Liz are not alone in their struggles to communicate with their son’s teachers. Sanity this year will also require that they become less passive in the face of a system that does not encourage them to have access to their son’s teachers.


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