by Maggie Judi
Sorry for the little hiatus. I am a mother, and sometimes mothering gets……chaotic.
Speaking of motherhood, it isn’t inaccurate to say that I spend most of my waking and bits of my sleeping hours agonizing over my parenting.
I’m not so far removed from childhood that I can’t remember what it was like to wonder what in the heck mom and dad were thinking when they doled out seemingly outrageous punishments whenever I was caught in a lie, or wrote on the walls, or yelled an ungrateful, and thoughtless comment to my “too kind and loving” (thanks Caveman for the reference) parents.
But I am so far removed as to forget why I did those things in the first place. And therefore my own childhood does me know good as a parent…well until recently.
In the last year I have interviewed close to 20 former San Juan County-ites. All of whom had “too kind and loving” parents and all of whom grew out of their adolescent slump to become reputable, talented, creative, secure, and successful adults!
I think about this every time I dial the number for the next interviewee and wonder what stories I’ll hear. I have learned from these golden children that success doesn’t come with a silver spoon.
Chance Allred told me that we who hail from the promised land are born with a PHD. Poor, Hungry, and Driven. His acronym is vastly different than the collegiate version, however it rings true in every story I have done.
The subjects of this column grew up with disadvantages, as outsiders, and with the odds stacked against them in one of the poorest counties in the nation, yet all have risen above the challenges to attack life head on, the stuff that parental fantasies are made of.
And so it makes me think. About what I really want for my kids, what all of us as parents are struggling so hard to provide for our offspring. What if what I think I want for my kids’ childhood is all wrong?
The comic Brian Regan said, “They say a formula for comedy is comedy equals tragedy plus time. A difficult or uncomfortable situation takes place, and then you laugh about it later down the road. Sometimes I wonder if I could be so mentally healthy to subtract the time part. Like what if there is a flat tire, and it’s raining outside? Instead of laughing a month later, why not laugh while you are changing tires in the rain?”
So, maybe as a parent every time my kids gets cut from a team, or some big studly bully tells them they are nothing, or they fail an important test…or write on the walls, I should first comfort, console, (and discipline) and then secretly revel in the fact the this “changing tires in the rain” as it were is sort of like lifting weights.
Molding and shaping my children’s souls into the well defined, and strong characters that will propel them into their golden futures. I have been ensconced in the perfect parenting formula just in time to raise my own teenagers.
Though let me be the first to admit, I’ve never laughed whilst changing tires in the rain. But it jogs my memory, and I remember. I remember a childhood of catching horny toads and wearing hand me downs. I remember a safe warm home where I learned how to work, and be grateful.
I think back to afternoons spent scraping other kid’s boogers off the fifth and sixth grade desks at the elementary after school under the tutelage of my too kind and loving parents, of long days earning my college tuition first at early mornings life guarding lap swim with Eddie Allred, that then stretched into summer nights spinning grasshopper shakes at the shake shack with Jan Redd.
And even though Lloyd Larsen told me never to quote Hillary, it does takes a village. But I think she must’ve stolen that from someone who grew up in golden San Juan County. And in that case, it rings true, and it’s okay to say.
What we’ve learned so far from “Out of the Blues” is maybe what we’ve known all along, but never been so “mentally healthy” as to fully appreciate the community that has shaped and molded all of us in some way.
Some have lifted mighty heavy weights in their time among the sage and pinion. The trick is to welcome those weights and have enough “PHD” to lift them high.
Watching my kids struggle, I wish I had been able to see and help with the burdens of my peers. Maybe that’s why being a parent is so different from being a kid. The very act of carrying over time makes us capable of empathy.
The hardest part is knowing how much of our kids burdens we should carry for them. What if my too kind and loving mom hadn’t made me scrape boogers!? At the very least, I would’ve added mine to the mix for some other poor kid to deal with. But I promise you that I have learned this. Metaphorically speaking, (and let’s face it literally) never leave your boogers for someone else.
The list of potential stories is staggering, and will keep growing as long as the good people of San Juan keep living!
Up next a Monticello boy who was RECRUITED by West Point, and……the Caveman returns.