Sunday, March 27, 2005

[politics] Of politics and parenting, part 1.5.01

[Note: some posts write themselves, while others... not so much. This post is one of the 'not so much' ones. Actually, I've been hacking away at, editing, writing and rewriting this "Of politics and parenting" essay since the first week I started blogging. The first part wrote itself - it's this part that I've been having problems articulating well. So, here it is - warts and all. IMO, it really doesn't qualify as a completed post, hence the version number instead of '2' - think of it as a service pack release rather than an upgrade.] I'm a dad. My son is almost 5, and I've tried to be as involved a parent as possible. I'm a progressive. I've been politically active for more than a decade, and I've tried to be as involved an activist as possible. So... how has this mix worked out? You had a taste of it earlier, and I can hear you now: Okay, so what? So you've backed off a little, and aren't as radical as a few years ago. So friggin' what? Okay. Fair enough. I'm not out there as often as I was; I'm not out there as often as I feel I could be. But here's the funny thing: I'm out there every day. Huh? You read that correctly: Every. Single. Day. How? Did you even read the first sentence? Yeah. I didn't think so. For those of you who did: great - you knew where I was going with this, and I've got a hunch that you probably do many of the same things I try to do (we try to do - I've got to be fair - I couldn't (and don't) do this alone). I've got a hunch that you're doing it for many of the same reasons that I do - you'd really feel like you'd made a difference in the world, and this is the most direct way (and probably the most subversive way) you can: parenting. I've learned that it's hard to be a parent if you're angry. I've learned that it's hard to be a good streetfighter if you aren't. Parenting must come to the top of the queue at this time - otherwise, I've really screwed the pooch, and I can't afford that. I learned the object lesson of anger and parenting during the weeks following 9/11. My son was 16.5 months old - and it was quite clear that he could tell something was wrong. We were what was wrong... our anger was coming through loud and clear through our body language, through our hushed conversations, and it was upsetting him. In private, we'd rant about what seemed like the inexorable march to war with Iraq already apparent to anyone watching with a cynical eye. In private, we'd rave about the opportunistic corporatist jackals lining up to feast on the corpse of Arab world. Around our son, not a word. But the anger was still there... and he could tell. That's when we really decided to back off. We'd been cutting back our escorting at a local abortion clinic and at that point, we stopped altogether. We told people that it was because my wife was getting ready for internship, that we were moving, that the stress of looking for new jobs for our family was too much, but that was only a small part of it. The anger we felt against the self-appointed guardians of public morality was too corrosive, too toxic. Instead, we opted to do the one thing that called out to us most: to parent. So far, I think we're doing okay - right now, we have a beautiful, open-minded, tolerant boy who plays well with boys and girls and across peer groups - not too shabby for preschool. I know it's going to get harder (kindergarten... oy vey), but as we give him tools to deal with this fucked up world, I'm guessing that some parts of it will get easier, too. When the Legions of Rome spread out through Europe, they planted chestnut trees and oaks. Why? They planned on being there for a long, long time - these were food staples, the main source of flour prior to the widespread cultivation of wheat. They knew that these Legionnaires would never eat the nuts these trees would produce - but they were counting on the sons of these soldiers being there and needing food. Our son is such a seedling... We're planting for the future, not for immediate results. And right now, I couldn't think of anything else I'd rather do. I can wait for results. Catgories:

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