We had a good family Christmas yesterday.
Archive for Child
We had a good family Christmas yesterday.
Art © 2013, B. Lake.
This work by B. Lake is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Love you, kid.
Photo © 1998 S. Lake, reproduced with permission.
Over the weekend, thanks to the good offices of our friend B—,
We had a terrific tour of the project our friend B— works on, along with a pretty good overview of lab procedures and equipments. Plus we got to see actual neurons in their glia-infused petri dishes. As I said, like potato chips for zombies.
Science was discussed, research processes were reviewed, and fun was had by all.
As usual, more at the Flickr set.
Photos © 2013, Joseph E. Lake, Jr.
This work by Joseph E. Lake, Jr. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Last night I had another meltdown. By my standards, this one was fairly epic.
Let me ‘splain… No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
We were basementing again, and when I say “we”, I mean Team E— with an assist from
These were drawings and cards she’d made me from the time she was old enough to hold a crayon until about age six or seven. She appeared profoundly sad. We spoke briefly about what she was doing, then I took the food into the house. After I ate, I went out and found her still in the garage, still looking at the old drawings.
She’s adopted. We know nothing about her birth family, and we never will. My daughter feels that as a profound loss, and perhaps the core issue of her psyche is the dread and pain of abandonment. That sense of past and impending betrayal is a hole in the bottom of her heart where all the love runs out.
And me, in my dying, am abandoning her in the most profound way possible. I am tearing open that hole in her heart, and leaving floodgate that may never shut.
I understand this all too well because of my own history. My parents split when I was about four. My mother took me and my sister and moved back to Texas. When I was about five, my dad got custody of us from my mother. As my very first therapist said, back in 1980, by the time I was six, in psychological terms, I had experienced double abandonment. The continuity of the developmental relationship with both my parents had been broken.
The core issue of my psyche is the dread and pain of abandonment. There’s always been a hole in the bottom of my heart where all the love runs out. This explains the ragingly co-dependent and highly depressive relationship life I led in my teens and twenties. Now, on the back end of 30+ years of therapy, it explains why I chose to go the route of polyamory and practice something of an All The Women Are Belong To Me dating life. By dint of decades of hard work, I’ve directed that energy in a constructive fashion; become loving and thoughtful and kind and attentive as a way of both easing my own heart and easing the hearts of those around me. I do not always succeed in those things, but I do the best I can.
I’ve chosen to repay pain and loss with love and kindness.
Now my child stands on that same path, for similar reasons. I will never be able to love her enough. I will not live long enough to help her through the disaster of my own early death.
As I said to Lisa Costello last night, she looked so lost. In that loss, I see the lost boy I was and to some degree still am.
And so I cried my heart out last night, for her and for me. I weep to even write this now, and doubt the wisdom of committing my words to public view in this moment. But this, too, is part of dying. This, too, is part of living. This, too, is part of loving.
Yesterday, I made it over to a doubleheader basketball game to sit with Mother of the Child and watch our daughter play in a summer league game. She didn’t play this past fall in regular season for various reasons — a choice on her part which I understood even while not entirely agreeing with — so this was her first game in over a year. They did wonderfully, winning both games by a substantial margin.
This is league is quite short, so those are probably the only games I will make it to. I missed her lacrosse season this year entirely due to chemo side effects. I’m glad I got a chance to see her play. She is a joyous athlete whose inner life is much improved by powerful physical exertion.
Love that kid.
That’s a photo of my Dad in Outer Mongolia, in 1992, when I and a group of friends and family went to see my parents there. (He was the U.S. ambassador to that country at the time.) Dad was 49 when we visited then. I just turned 49 this past Thursday.
Sometimes when I look at
It is the job of parents to go before their children. We break a trail for them through time, setting a path so they have something to rebel against, and if we’re lucky, eventually a guide to follow.
The cycle of the generations proves to me that time isn’t linear, it’s cyclical, at least according to the secret calendars of the soul.
Photos © 1992, 2013, Joseph E. Lake, Jr. and T. Rotundo.
This work by Joseph E. Lake, Jr. and T. Rotundo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
After a tentative start last week, last night
We’re working together literally line-by-line. That’s not my usual modus operandi on collaborative work, but it allows us to sit side by side and discuss story, writing process and line level language. So it’s a good bonding experience for the both of us, and hopefully a good fiction writing tutorial for her. So far we’ve discussed the structure and pacing of plot reveals, the technical merits of first person versus third person, and a number of finicky language issues. Plus the composition of pennies.
Interestingly, writing is such a solitary act (even most forms of collaboration are serial solitary acts combined, like having sex by postcard), yet this is a profoundly mutual experience. I hope we can shepherd this piece to completion and find a publication home for it. Whether or not we succeed, this is a lot of fun for both us. I love my kid, and I love writing. What’s not to like?
As a friend of mine pointed out that this past Wednesday was the first time I had ever referred to
Well, in a word, no.
I’ve been talking about her online since my first blogging efforts about ten years ago. Early on, I was on Speculations, then JournalScape and Blogger, before moving to LiveJournal in July of 2004, and later, a WordPress blog on my own domain. Only those last two are still active, with 99% common content between them. I’m not sure when I first began using the monicker of
All this time, I’ve been very protective of her online identity and her personal privacy. She will have to live with the trail of mentions I’ve made all her life. So I’ve been careful only to tell funny or informative stories about her, not embarrass her online (beyond the usual “Oh, Dad…!”), not to publish her art or photography without permission, only to quote her when she agrees, and so forth. In other words, I’ve long worked to enable her own control of her online identity, with considerable pre-editing of choices for her when she was younger.
In the same vein, her mother and I let her go onto Facebook under her own name when she was aged 12. Even then, we kept her account as locked down as possible under Facebook’s privacy settings. Those have since been slowly relaxed as she becomes more mature and sophisticated.
We’ve always been very conscious of the meaning of her online footprint. What she does with it from here is up to her, but I know my daughter has been smart so far. We never did have a plan for outing her by name on the Internet at a certain age, or in context with a certain event. Nonetheless, Bronwyn Lake now has a public presence in her own name.
And I’m okay with that.
Love you, kid.
So I have this kid.
She’s fifteen. She’s got all the usual frustrations and issues of a fifteen year old. Plus the challenges of fairly severe dyslexia. Plus adoption issues. Plus transracial issues. Plus a father who’s been mortally ill since she’s ten, whom she knows is racing the clock to live to see her graduate from high school. Plus all the pressures you might expect all of the above would place on mental and emotional health.
In other words, she has far more reasons to be the selfish, self-involved, self-pitying git I was at fifteen than I ever did.
And yet she’s not.
For Christmas, on her own initiative,
Then she made these cards. Gorgeous pen-and-ink work, with light color accents. Nicer than what you can find in the store. They showcase her artistic talents, and most of them are germane to the gift given, and to the recipient. I’m talking real class here. And again, deeply thoughtful.
But where my daughter really brought it home was yesterday while we were having Christmas at my Dad and (step)Mom’s place.
So, yeah, sometimes
One of my editorial policies on this blog is not to talk about the troubles of others without their explicit permission. I spend enough time narrating my cancer, I don’t need to drag the business of my friends and family in as well. But sometimes their troubles intersect mine. Those intersections can be occasionally brutal. Last Friday, for example, my father was in the ER at the same time I was in the infusion center for chemotherapy. That made for a deeply miserable morning across our entire family. As it happens, he is fine, and I am whatever I am on chemo, but no worse than expected to be sure. This past Friday morning, those things were not obvious.
Yesterday she brought home her first major grade report. Her high school runs on a lesson block schedule rather than a semester schedule. Every three to four weeks, they switch main lessons, and focus on that through the block. So this was her first significant high school academic evaluation, the equivalent of an end of semester grade in a key subject.
She got an A- for the lesson block in Civics. With a very positive write-up from her teacher.
I am proud of her. Very, very proud of her. A daunting amount of work and stress and effort has paid in ways that exceeded even my highest expectations.
Some things just need to be said: You go, kid.
She’s my kid, after all.
Happy Birthday, Bronwyn.