AT AGE SEVEN YOU ASKE ME
At age seven you asked me this: “Will you still be alive when I am seventeen?” As I fought the tears that wanted to spill upon my cheeks, for fear you would see them and take the tears to mean I wouldn’t, I replied, “Well of course I will be.” What I’m really thinking is that this question is just too deep for a seven year old, and why are you asking me this?
It stands to reason that since I am 53 now that in ten years I will still be here for you. I would then be 63. In my dream world I would be active and coming to all your baseball games cheering for you and being ever so proud of the man you had become.
Our journey together begins the day you were born. There were complications and fear that day. It was July 26, 2003 and it hosted a warm summer and blue skies. The room your mother was in was called a birthing room and it was very large. You were born at Mt. Hood Hospital in Gresham, Oregon. I was there along with your aunt Karrie, Aunt Katie, and Aunt Taylor. Your mom’s best friend at the time was there and her name was Sarah. Your grandma Susan and your dad John were also there! Your great grandma Jann couldn’t be there but we kept her informed. You were already so loved and everyone wanted to meet you.
I was a little taken aback when you came out a boy, I have to say. I had never dealt with boys and what was I to do? I was very concerned about your mother at the time of your birth as she had to have you cesarean section, which meant you came out through an incision in your mother’s uterus rather than the natural way. This took the focus away from you for a while because having a cesarean is traumatic to the female body and can create problems. Your mother did very well though and all settled down and finally we could all breathe a sigh of relief and really take a look at you.
And look we did. We unbundled you and counted your toes and fingers, we look at your beautiful face, and your legs and body and we all chuckled at how handsome you already were. You see you were the first boy born into our little female nucleus and we were all a little in awe.
The more important question is why are you asking? Are you afraid to be without me in your life? Do you love me so much that the thought of my not being in your life scares you?
I have become a major player in your life. I have cared for you since you were 8 months old. Your mother went back to trade school to finish what she started and I and papa took care of you. You became our second try at parenthood. We packed a bag and took you wherever we went. You were never a burden. You were charming and funny and so damn cute we couldn’t help but love the heck out of you. In the most stressful of times for your mother, grandpa and I were there to shield you from damage. In the most dehydrated of times with your mother, grandpa and I were your oasis. You have come to rely upon us as you would parents. You have earned that right too, Kayle, as we are your parents too. I think a lot of people would say “Oh, you cannot say that.” But I believe we can! Without disrespecting your mother, we are your parents too. We had you living with us a good percent of the time from babyhood till when you turned seven. You and your mom lived with us on and off. We cared for both of you. I think that’s what it means to have Grand Parents because even adult children need guidance and Grand Parents provide that and oversee the adult child’s child. While we may have cared for you a lot and I mean a lot, we did it knowing that our influence would benefit you in a way your mother could not provide. We wanted to give you stability and morals and confidence that living with your mother could not give you at the time. Your mother had a really hard beginning to her adult life after she gave birth to you. She made choices that were in conflict to raising a child. Most of the men your mother picked were degenerates and unworthy of her. The problem was that your mom didn’t think she deserved better. This came from having a low opinion about herself.
Unfortunately your mother has anxiety issues much like I do. She is surviving her life and has only energy to do this. Not a lot of surplus energy for children and life partners. Until she starts working on herself and gets professional counseling she will always seem apart from you. This is why you feel alone often even while with her in the same house. I know how this feels Kayle. It’s as if you can walk through the house and no one sees you stepping by them. You are solid and real but the energy of you is not felt by the person you so eagerly want the most to notice you. This is the invisible loneliness.
I see that happening to you. I see you shine when you’ve learned something in school that is remarkable. But when you tell your parent, the expression on that person’s face is not joy or kindness but scorn and irritability at what you saw as wonderful, and exciting.
Because I see this I work at reversing the disappointment for you so that you are not scarred by this negative reception. I want you to know that every new thing you learn is celebrated when you tell it to me. The unfortunate part of this is that you will always crave your parent’s approval. You will forever be chasing their attention. What I give you that lacks with your parent will not replace what you so crave. I hope it will help you to be less lonely. I hope it will show you how life should be so that you have a frame of reference to always go to.
The important thing for you to grasp is that happiness and joy come from within. You are the only one that has complete control over how you feel. I think that perhaps you may be relying on me too much, and are fearful for you future without me in it.
I adore you. I find in you immeasurable goodness. I see kindness in your eyes, and chivalry in your heart even at your age. You must know that you have everything in you to become a fabulous man, and a stalwart male. If you can believe what I am saying and embrace it as real for yourself, having an inattentive mother won’t make a difference in who you become.
They say a child’s personality is fully developed by age five. If this is true , which I do believe, then you have been already been given a foundation for development that comes from me and your papa. You have only to acknowledge the foundation and trust it and yourself to complete your growth into manhood.
Believing in yourself is the most difficult achievement to make from age seven to seventeen. Most teens struggle with it. I hope you do not. I hope you believe what I am telling you, and let that be your platform of growth. If you do you will have a head start on all your peers. Finding confidence in a young boy or teen is not usual. You find bullies, and smart mouthed brats, but those camouflage what those kids are really feeling which is fear and insecurity. I can’t say it enough─trust yourself!
You have been loved fully. I love you fully and so does Papa. Your mother loves you very much. You are handsome and smart. You embody kindness and empathy.
Will I be here when you are seventeen? I plan on it. But we never know what the future is to be. So.. you have to live for you! You must gain self assurance and self worth in the next ten years so that you do not grow up with anxiety and fears. Whether I am there or not, you will be and you must be okay with that. I will always be a strong influence on you. My words and thoughts that I’ve conveyed to you all those years will be in your brilliant brain to call upon. That’s why I want you to trust what I tell you now and in the future. You will not need me. I am already with you.
I see a good life for you. I see baseball and love and peace. Step forward Kayle, into the future, because it is your future and you make it the way you want it to be. You have that power. No one else…just you. It’s one of our greatest gifts as a human that most refuse to claim. Accept your power, your strength, and your confidence. Believe in who you are and the gifts you’ve been given. Be open to them and see them so that you take the path you were intended to take.
You were never meant to conventional either.
With all of my heart, Grandma (Karla)