Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Posted by Maggie May Labels: Babies To Teenagers
This beautiful boy was born 16 years ago, and so was I. Born into the world together. It is an amazing truth of human life that the simple existence of a life can heal another. In this photo he stands with my Uncle Robert, last month on the Eastern waters. He is incredibly emotionally intelligent, and adults have always, and still do, express their surprise and enjoyment in the depth and scope of conversing with him. I've had many people tell me he has a self-possession and confidence unusual for a teenager- and he always has been that way; I've always heard those words, since he was two. I can't help but assume that some of this is the constant ever steady presence- given in words and action- of unconditional love. Dakota's father said to me once after a disagreement over our son, One thing I know...Dakota knows he is loved in a way I never had. He has always known that with you. I think this is my greatest gift to my children. It matters to me who they are- I want them to be smart, kind, strong, etc- but my love does not rest on those qualities, or any qualities. For better or for worse, even if they were to somehow someway end up terrible, selfish and cruel people, I would love them, and find a way to their hearts. I have a determination to lift my children's hearts that comes through in every choice I make and the words I use. I feel this from the day they are nursing at my breast and looking into my eyes, sleeping next to me, keeping time with my heartbeat. I do everything I can- no spanking, little screaming, baby carrying, nursing, co-sleeping, kisses, hugs, weekly family nights ( Friday ) constant talking, listening, to feed that connection: nurtured throughout childhood, it is the most powerful tool in the years of raising a teen.
Dakota has a physical and spiritual grace that reminds me daily of the simple words young man.
He is, to my mother eyes, the epitome of a young man: strong, generous, stubborn minded, a bit impulsive, intelligent, curious, funny, quick to grin, quick to anger, forgiving, adventurous, and beautiful. It is the great trick of love that I am sure even if he were completely different than this, I would find those qualities the epitome of a young man. It is because he is my child and my son that I can see the greatness in him, and I have always viewed it as my spiritual obligation to always let him know that I do see and believe in the best in him, even when no one else- himself least- can see it.
Dakota once saved Lola. Mr. Curry, baby Lola and Dakota were out front of this very house, when Dakota pushed the button to close the garage door. At that moment, Lola ran past the truck and into the garage. As the door came down on her crawling self, Dakota threw himself on top of Lola, taking the brunt of the door, and Mr. Curry was there to lift the door and let them both out. He was nine.
Dakota thinks deeply and carefully about all of his opinions and interactions with the world. He has never been a bully. He has been in a handful of fist fights, always provoked. He came home after being jumped by three boys in middle school with bruises on his face. The school suspended him for punching the main guy in the face instead of running away, and Mr. Curry and I called and complained to them about their stupid ass policy and took Dakota to dinner.
Dakota told me my favorite joke. How do you make a tissue dance? You put a little boogie in it!
Dakota cut Lola's umbilical cord. He wrote to Mr. Curry this Father's Day Thank you for guiding me through my teenage years. He is the best big brother to Ian Oliver that you could imagine or hope for- fiercely protective of his younger brother, he will not allow even himself to joke meanly at Ian's expense ( the way brothers often can and do ), and despite their huge differences ( Ian is a straight A student who loves school while Dakota middles by and is bored, Ian is Republican, Dakota is straight Democrat, Ian likes gun shooting and Dakota likes skateboarding, Dakota is cutting edge and Ian could care less, Dakota is a big talker and Ian is quiet, etc ) Dakota has always found ways to connect them and although they are not blood brothers ( Ian is from Mr. Curry's first marriage ) Dakota considers this irrelevant- they are brothers, in the truest meaning. They love each other deeply and spend every moment Ian is here- two days and nights a week- together.
I feel a sense of reverence and awe about the birthdays of my children. They mark a day- something that rarely ever happens- when you can pinpoint: This day is when my life changed forever.