Out the Back Window--Then, Now, and in the Future

The following story involving a neighbor's son happened in the year 2000...
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Surrounded by half-full moving boxes, I wipe the perspiration from my forehead and chug a glass of tap water. Glancing out the kitchen window and enjoying the hot August morning from the air conditioned inside, movement attracts my attention.

I see a young boy about 11 or 12 years old.

He runs through the native field grasses behind our house carrying a toy gun and wearing a olive-colored children's soldier helmet. He dives below sight level in the two-foot high brush. After a few moments, he jumps to his feet and charges an imaginary enemy's bulwark.

The child's fantasy is interrupted by a female who gestures for him to come to her.

The boy retrieves his rifle and walks to an adjacent house.

I return to the task at hand--moving into our first home.

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Ten years later, young adult Alex has not made the best decisions with his life, and has been arrested for theft, assault, and vandalism.

Last year, he plead guilty to a felony drinking and driving related charge after two of his passengers (also intoxicated) were injured when his car crashed into a tree.

Alex has struggled to keep a job, and has been a source of aggravation for his retired football coach father.

Sometimes, I wonder if Alex's dad stares into that two-foot high field grass and can still see his young son running and playing in the green glory of summer.

As, I watch our kids chasing each other in the field through the same kitchen window, I wonder:
In a decade, will I be in the same position as Alex's dad--wishing my sons and daughter could just have remained children forever? 

42 comments:

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

Gosh, innocence disappears so quickly, doesn't it? That just proves why we need to live the moment. Everyone is too obsessed thinking about the future.

LadyFi said...

I hope not!

So sad when childhood innocence is not replaced by hope and fulfillment.

Matthew Rush said...

How sad, but who knows maybe with a little understanding Alex can turn his life around?

In totally unrelated news did you hear that Van der Sloot or whatever his name is confessed? They were talking about it on NPR this morning.

Audrey Allure said...

I hope not; everyone's different. My boyfriend is in his 20s, and yet sometimes he still acts like a kid, haha.

Anyway, since you mentioned the link didn't work, here it is: www.childrens-books-award.co.uk

:)

Javajune said...

Being a parent is so tough and sometimes heart breaking. I'm sure your kids will turn out just fine but I understand the worry. Great post, your writing is so moving!
xo-jj

Ann T. said...

Dear Slamdunk,
Heidegger the philosopher used to say the truest moments of being are those of anxiety--when all the trappings of our daily operational outlook fall away.

The world is large. I think your ability to see this (and mark it) keeps you from a false judgement of others, such as Alex's parents.

I can't think that life will ever be small enough for us to control. I do know that the love, protectiveness, and virtues you bring to your life make a difference.

Even for a child who hits 'rock-bottom'--that rock bottom is rarely so low before they acknowledge the slide and ask for help. That is love as the bridge.

You're a great parent--it comes out in these lines and many others. It will not solve everything, but it will always bring aid and comfort to your children, no matter how tough their life gets or how hard the decision they must make.

And that applies with Luca as well, I do believe most firmly. It may not quantify into the same shape and feel, but it will still make the difference.

The very best to you, your wife, and your lovely children,
Ann T.

obladi oblada said...

I can relate. I worry about that sometimes because of the rough start my kids have had. Even with a good start sometimes this happens. All we can do as parents is our best..the rest is up to them.

Natalie said...

That's heartbreaking. I think there will always be a little sadness about children growing up, but I hope they still retain a little of their innocence.

Renee said...

I think you wish that no matter how their lives turn out. But all you can do is your best and hope it's enough.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Wondering what our children's futures hold is such a scary thing sometimes - will they be good people...will they be happy...should I have done things differently...

All we can do is our best, right now. The fact that you can wonder such things is testimony to what a good mama you are.

My Husband's Watching TV... said...

Things were so much easier when we were younger. I say just enjoy the moments that you can right now and give them the tools they need and they'll make the right choices.

Confessions of a Mother, Lawyer & Crazy Woman said...

Touching, and sad. Always find an interesting read on your blog.

This Eclectic Life said...

Unfortunately, our children don't stay young. And, we can't always determine how they will turn out in the end. We can only try to impart our values and hope that the lessons "took."
But, don't worry about the future. The present is a gift, as they say.

Angelia Sims said...

It's so hard to know what choices they will make it life. We can only hope to do our in best in showing them how to make the best ones.

This is such a sad story and reminds me of my nephew. He is a great kid that took a turn for the worse. Now in his early 20's has no direction, but one addiction after another. Truly devastating.

Kristen @ Motherese said...

Isn't it interesting how we spend so much time in our kids' early years waiting for them to hurry up and hit their milestones and then, when they get older, we so often wish we could go back to when they were young and innocent?

I hope there is still a chance for Alex to make a positive turn in his life.

Angela Ackerman said...

It's amazing how quickly it all changes, isn't it? So sad. And as a parent, this hits home. All we can do is try and steer our kids the best we can into adulthood, and hope we've infused enough morality, self esteem and respect in them that they will go on to make chances that bring happiness, not regret.

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Nikole Hahn said...

So sad. Beautiful depiction though in your writing. I can see the boy and I can feel his enthusiasm for the imaginary adventure. Too bad there wasn't a happily-ever-after in his future.

J. J. in Phila said...

You will always be wishing your children never grew up. That is the nature of aging and being a parent. :)

jodeeluna said...

Wow! This post provoked some feelings in me. I was just thinking about the same thing last night. My Mom gave me a stack of old photos of when my children were the ages of 4 and 8. I'm working on a post using them and thinking about how surreal parenting is.

You love the adults they have become and yet you miss the children they once were. The feelings are conflicting. It's as if you want to talk to that little person once again, hug them, and see them smile for real. Why can't anyone create a time machine so we parents can go back and forth?

theycallmejane said...

Such a sad, touching story. When one child goes in the wrong direction, and you rack your brain trying to figure out the mis-step - when did it all go wrong? I just hope that each day I'm doing my best to keep mis-steps to a minimum.

carma said...

I'm such a sentimental fool when it comes to my son. Already pondering how much I'll miss him while he is away at camp for two weeks!! It is tough to see them grow up and become independent, but then we know that we have done our jobs. I bet Alex's dad wishes he could go back in time to the happier days. I feel for him. For a second there I thought you meant he did not mow his lawn. I should not read blogs when I am sleepy...

Luisa Doraz said...

I just wanted to come by and wish you a very happy time blogging. I will be on vacation. I will do my very best to get to a computer.I may have to leave a quick comment, but you will know I have been by. I will also be checking my blog for comments left. So, if you leave a comment....REMEMBER...Make me SMILE. Thanks to you all.

Herding Cats said...

Your kids will probably experience some growing pains, but you are a great father, so someday you will be even closer to your kids when they are adults!

brittac said...

What great writing - I love the descriptions!

Also thanks for visiting my blog.

Kristin said...

That kind of stuff keeps me up at night sometimes...and my little dude isn't even 2. Sigh.

Selma said...

I guess that question really is impossible to answer. All we can do is hope, pray, offer support and be good role models for our children.

My son will be 14 on Friday and I wonder what the next few years will hold. He is a good kid, a really good kid, but I am not foolish enough to think he can completely withstand the lure of things like peer pressure.

I plan to be extremely vigilant over the next few years.

Clara said...

I think in a way every parent will always see his children as well, children.

The main thing is to prepare them to the world. Its like a birds nest: You have to prepare them to fly alone in the world. If you did a good job, they won´t be like Alex and will prevail through adversity. At least thats what I think.

Great post as always Slam.

Eternally Distracted said...

Such a shame that some people make the wrong choices... here's hoping he soon turns himself around.

Diane said...

So sad. I feel lately, I need to focus more on my children and not look to the future so much. Take the days now and appreciate each one. Thanks for the story! :O)

Katherine ( Katie) Corrigan said...

Lets not write Alex off just yet. There is always the possibility for hope, for change, for a new beginning. My daughter is a great example that being a teenage monster does not necessary follow you into adulthood. She is a a mother of 5 who enriches their lives. Through her faith and her daily mothering. She still mentions what a monster she was a teen ( no dui's but lots of other stuff) She says she can't believe what she put me through.
Have faith my blogger friend. If your children stumble they will brush themselves off and start again.
Hugs, Katherine

Lydia Kang said...

Half the time, I wish my kids would never grow up. And half the time, I can't wait for them to grow so I can have different life experiences with them.

WomanHonorThyself said...

hiya Slam! In a decade, will I be in the same position as Alex's dad--wishing my sons and daughter could just have remained children forever?..perhaps but probably just so proud of what they became with a dad like u!!!

AB HOME Interiors said...

Wow, how quickly we change. Hopefully this young man will find his way, and change for the better. It is never too late to make a difference and turn down a different path.

T. Anne said...

I think we mold our children's ability to make rationale decisions. Raise them in the Lord and trust them to Him fully.

He & Me + 3 said...

I know I will wish no matter what happens that they stayed innocent and stayed children. It is hard to watch them grow and start to make their own choices...good or bad. It is hard watching them become independent from us as parents. They should be babies forever.

apexofoblivion said...

That's awful, but I completely understand. I've seen kids in my neighborhood do the exact same things :(

The Babaylan said...

only parents know how it feels. prayer, i blieve in it, changes not just things but also people and circumstances. nothing is too late.

Miss Caitlin S. said...

So well written!!!! I love this a lot. I often think of that when I see criminals, even serial killers, in pictures etc. and I think "at one point, that was a baby". I know that sounds weird but really, at some point that person was just a tiny, incapable, sweet baby who liked being held and coddled. It's so odd how far some people can fall. I am not a parent but I do know that if you have open communication with your children than it curtails a lot of the opportunities for something to blindside you. Thanks for this :) (PS- it reminds me of reading about Eric Harris/Dylan Klebold's parents after their massacre. The memories they had of these killers as young, innocent little boys. My heart breaks for their families).

Jayne said...

It's so sad. What happened in those intervening years to turn Alex into the person he is now? I'm not one to routinely make excuses for people but you do have to wonder if he was in some way let down by either his parents or his school.

terri said...

This is so sad...

None of us pictures our babies growing up to be failures. We imagine only the best for them, with maybe a few minor little bumps in the road to provide them with some valuable and necessary life lessons.

Sometimes they grow up and their problems become bigger than us.

LisaF said...

In a word...Yes. Regardless of whether they are wildly successful or just plain wild, part of you will always want them just big enough to fit in your lap. We do the best we can to raise them, then turn them over to the world and pray.

gladwellmusau said...

Thank you for this one. It gives us parents the right perspective...long before it happens. It is good...to turn the clock now before its too late. What we may see as innocent actions in our children...may as well be the wake-up call to do something before the irreversible happens. Food for thought...and prayer!

Blessings,

Gladwell