On Father’s Day, I Honor My Son

Son

It is Father’s Day, yet I do not honor my father.

My father was an abusive drunk who put me through years of hell and regularly did everything he could to crush my spirit. He did a hell of a lot of damage in that regard; I’ve struggled for years with chronic, enervating, soul-crushing depression that several shrinks have identified as deep post-traumatic shock pounded into my marrow and mind during my childhood.

So today, I honor my son.

Nathaniel is seventeen, intelligent, kind, thoughtful, socially adept and funny, loves his parents, loves being around his parents, and has never been a behavioral problem in any way. When people ask us how we discipline him, we always say we don’t. If there’s an issue, we talk it out, and it’s no longer an issue.

I attribute this mostly to his innate character, but also to the fact that from the day he was born, both his parents have treated him with respect and have never seen dealing with him as an innate conflict or power struggle. He is the way he is because we allowed him to be the way he is, not because we beat it into him or forced him to act certain ways or made him follow stringent rules. We always honored his right to be acknowledged, to be present, to be heard. We pointed out when he was in the wrong, but also stood up for him when he was in the right.

We gave him love and respect at every step along the way, and as a result, he has given us love and respect in return. He doesn’t have to rebel because we’re not holding him back from being who he is and living life on his terms, and because we trust him, which lets him know that he is worthy of our trust.

Because of who he is, and how he was raised, my son didn’t have to bother with being a surly teen. He went straight to being a man.

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Fractured Holidays

It’s been a weird holiday season.

As some of you know, in May I moved out of our family house and my soon to be ex and I have been splitting custody of my son 50/50. The divorce is in progress, a constant source of joy in my life, as you can imagine. Nonetheless, things are largely amiable between my soon to be ex (soon2bX? Maybe I can get that bit of 733t speak going), and my son has adjusted wonderfully.

So this is the first holiday season of our fractured family life. We spent the first several months of the year in mediation working out in tedious detail an agreement that the soon2bX has largely torn, shredded, and shat upon, but in that agreement we’d planned for my son to be here, at my new place, for Christmas this year.

As we got closer to the season, we realized that, if we stayed with our usual schedule, she’d have him for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, though I’d have him for the other five days of the week. I suggested we just do the holiday as a family this year (we did that for Thanksgiving, and it went well), and I’d just come to the house on Christmas Day.

So that’s what we did. I told my son to call me when he got up, and I’d head right over, because I didn’t want to miss anything. He called at 1:50 am. I headed right over, because I’m game and, as I said, I didn’t want to miss anything.

As you can imagine, it made for a very long day. Naps were taken by the older two of our trio. But we had a great time, because we always functioned very well as a family, even though my romantic relationship with my wife was as vibrant as that between two corpses. Who never knew each other. Buried in different cemeteries. In different nations. On different planets. Ah, good times.

Now, the fracturing of the holidays gets even more granular, as it’s New Year’s Eve, and within the hour I’m due at the house for dinner…then we’re all coming back here to my apartment to hang out, play Little Big Planet, watch something maybe, listen to tunes, and welcome the blessed year when we get rid of the worst damn president this country has ever had. It’ll be a good time.

But still, there’s some psycho-spiritual whiplash, all the jumping back and forth, and the times my son isn’t around are shadowy. I feel even more mortal than usual, and I feel pretty damn mortal as a general rule.

But hey, I’ll be seeing him in about forty minutes, and my year will begin in his presence. And that should chase some shadows away.

Happy New Year.