Wednesday, January 20, 2010

We're all desperate to save our kids

The hours from the first to last kindergarten bell go by in mad fashion. I go tramping all over these six hours of parental freedom as if they were the only thing keeping me from the mad house, and the poor house. And they are, by most accounts. I must work and schlep and scrape -- such is the life of the single parent.

I keep this frenetic pace because feel i have to save my daughter from all the ills that could befall her -- the calamities of poverty and absent fathers, and all the peripheral, sometimes awful people that appear present because of them. I am desperate to save her from all of it. So i take on more than i could possibly accomplish in those six hours, or even double that, hoping overkill will quell the beasts.

This, at the expense, sometimes, of actually being with the little revolutionary.

But i suppose we're all desperate to save our kids from whatever ills befall them. It's just our nature as parents.

A single father i know is watching his son drown in the emotion of losing the step-family he'd come to love. So the father is desperately treading water, shirking his work duties, hoping to keep his kid above the surface.

A single mother i know is drowning in debt, missteps, and lack of support. She's so close to the eye of the black hole that i had to step in and help her in her fight. Her desperation to save her kid has rubbed off on me, apparently.

In the movie Extraordinary Measures, a father goes on a mad chase that sees him creating a company, selling it, spending less time with his kids because of it -- all in the hope that he'll find the life-saving treatment for his two ailing children. And he found it. I just saw the Portland-based film at an advanced screening two nights ago, and it has me thinking a lot about desperation, and what we'll do to save our kids.

Does it mean more than patting yourself on the back for working so hard during the six hours your kid's at kindergarten? Should it actually mean taking time away from said kid during what could be bonding time?

Like the movie pointed out in more extreme terms, sometimes the bigger picture has to win out -- whatever that is. In my case, the desperation to rise above poverty has to come before putting together puzzles with my kid after school. For that single father, it means the opposite -- that money has to play second fiddle to his kid's emotional health. For that other single mother, it means swallowing the pride and accepting help from a person you never would have imagined accepting it from. For the man in the movie, it meant only coming home on the weekends, working the week long to help find a medicine that could help his kids.

We are all desperate to save our kids -- though sometimes we have to make the decision we don't want to make in order to save them.

** Related work: Manifesto -- a piece about legacy
Pretty Pink Bows -- a piece about schlepping

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