In Their Hands


When our children are young, we hold their lives in our hands. This is a serious charge. It changes us. As our children grow older, however, we begin to put ourselves in their hands. And when we do, we are glad that the history we share is so deep.

I took a road trip recently with three of my kids to visit my son, who is a whitewater river rafting guide for the summer. I knew as soon as my son told me he was going to be a guide that I would have to go on the river and face my fear of the rapids.

It was not the first time that parenthood has pushed me to go beyond a limited sense of myself I've previously put myself in my children's hands for other adventures. I believe my son if he tell me, "It's all good, Mom." I know that I am truly accommodated, that my weakness is tolerated, and that my fears are responded to with good humor.

My son, on the other hand, is friends with fear. He likes to snowboard fast down frozen water in the winter and raft down fast-moving water in the summer. As a one year old, he would lie with his ear to the floor and listen to the water as it rushed down the drain beneath the toilet. As he listened, he said his first word, Chine! Chine!, short for machine. His first love was a lawn mower. He walked at about the same age and never minded failing. This was also the baby who spent the first six months of his life either in arms or in the red Snugli baby carrier. He was very dependent before he became very independent.

This was a baby who liked contact, who demanded contact, who wanted always to be in touch, who in every way is a very physical person. We are often impatient with babies because they are so physical. The popular media suggests we have to train our babies to control themselves, to be independent, to sleep, and to obey, as if these were not things that had intrinsic value and would be learned naturally, as a matter of course, in human society.

Thank You

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