Monday, December 6, 2010

The unhappiness is coming

There's a show that airs on our local NPR station early on Sunday mornings called The Parent's Journal. We catch it every once in a while on the car radio. Back on November 10th we happened to be on the Beltway while Bobbi Connor interviewed Dr. Kyle Pruett about his book Partnership Parenting. (If you want to listen to the podcast, download episode number 111010 and fast-forward to 29:09.) The segment is really interesting, but what stood out in our minds was a single phrase from Dr. Pruett, a bit of advice for couples with their first baby on the way: "The unhappiness is coming." He said it, and Robb and I looked at each other like, "Huh?" Dr. Pruett elaborated. Then we looked at each other again, this time more of a, "But I really like it too late to turn back?" It's way too late. So then this morning I read this poem, and it sort of hit home. You see, when I was younger I thought that I was funny, and Robb was definitely a rapscallion. We are so screwed.

"Sins of the Father"
by W.D. Ehrhart

Today my child came home from school in tears.
A classmate taunted her about her clothes,
and the other kids joined in, enough of them
to make her feel as if the fault was hers,
as if she can't fit in no matter what.
A decent child, lovely, bright, considerate.
It breaks my heart. It makes me want someone
to pay. It makes me think—O Christ, it makes
me think of things I haven't thought about
in years. How we nicknamed Barbara Hoffman
"Barn," walked behind her through the halls and mooed
like cows. We kept this up for years, and not
for any reason I could tell you now
or even then except that it was fun.
Or seemed like fun. The nights that Barbara
must have cried herself to sleep, the days
she must have dreaded getting up for school.
Or Suzanne Heider. We called her "Spider."
And we were certain Gareth Schultz was queer
and let him know it. Now there's nothing I
can do but stand outside my daughter's door
listening to her cry herself to sleep.


old dog said...

parenting is not for sissies. It is hard hard stuff.

Mo said...

Carl was sure that he would always have daughters because he deserved them for all the stuff he'd done to/with/near other people's daughters all his life.

You know, karmic dad justice.

He has two daughters and now the boy is on the way....and now I'm wondering what it is that I deserve....