I failed him as a parent.
He fell through the cracks in school, he might have had a learning disability, it’s not clear. But you know how struggle and failure, end to end, over and over, changes you… your attitude, your choices, your willingness to be open and try. He changed.
It was hard. He was sent away from me. He got into trouble, trouble I couldn’t keep him from or deal with.
He grew to a teenager. One night at a party, he drank too much, went out on the porch for fresh air. But it wasn’t a porch, it was a roof and he slipped. Nothing was ever the same. The ambulance driver knew his dad.
When his dad got to the hospital and saw the gravel still stuck in his boy’s face, he fainted. His dad… well, his dad is my dad. My brother slipped.
Divorce naturally puts the oldest kid in position of helper, caretaker. A sort of parent. I swore I would do it “right” the next time. And so, before I had kids, before the 7 years of infertility and baby chase, decades before I met my current amazing Running Mate, before I finally got pregnant, and before my first kid came early, I was preparing to be a helicopter parent.
So when you see us at the playground, ensuring our kid gets their turn in line; sanitizing their hands every few minutes; running around behind them with our hands outstretched, palms up, to catch them; going down the slide backwards in front of them to clear any pebbles and not let them out of our sight; unpacking an enormous bag of wipes, snacks, drinks, stuffed animals, jackets, hats, band-aids and supplies — be gentle in your criticism. I was doing what I clearly saw as BEST for my child, even if it had everything to do with me.