In last week’s post you got to hear from Grandma Colorado as I started to explore the evolution of our family as we raise a gender nonconforming child, this week it’s Grandpa Colorado’s turn to speak/write. Instead of Q&A style, Grandpa Colorado wanted to write about the things that are on his mind most when he thinks about C.J. and our family.
In Regards to C.J.
There is a truism in the statement “once a parent, always a parent.” If I am to look at the circumstances leading up to becoming a traditional parent, I find many things come into play. Find a partner. Marry her. When the time comes in which you both agree that you are ready for a child and you say “it’s time,” be ready for life’s little disappointments and surprises.
Failure to conceive this month and then the next month. The false pregnancies, the painful miscarriages are devastating and take you to a corner in your mind with yourself. But you find there is a plan…two months, then three, now you tell your parents and your friends as you enter four, now five and watch your wife’s body change and you deal as best you can with her incredibility fascinating and weird situation. But always in the back of your mind as eight and now nine months approach you remember life’s little disappointments and surprises. What if the baby is not healthy? What will we do?
I have always tried to be a good father. There wasn’t a manual handed to me when the unbelievable event occurred, so I decided to use my father as a sort of “reverse barometer.” When parenting my sons, there would be no slapping in the face, no hitting on the buttocks or legs with a stick that they had to cut from a tree in the backyard. No shaking, no screaming, no slugging in the stomach and I would do my best not to have my sons fear me. These were simple rules and I tried my best to uphold them, like I said, there wasn’t a manual.
I watched both my boys grow and experience life. I was — and am still — proud of their academics, sports participation and social skills. Their standards in school might have been a little difficult for them at times because their school was where I earned my living. I taught for 33 years in secondary education and expected their studies and conduct toward teachers and coaches to be more than average at all times; a little pressure, I’m sure, but it was in MY manual.
As my children continued in their formal education they found their soul mates; beautiful young ladies who shared their values, their hopes and their dreams together. The marriages of my sons held such special anticipation. Grandchildren…new boys, new girls, more family, we could hardly wait. My wife and I have been blessed with grandchildren who get older and wiser each year and we are parents of parents. Life is good.
There are times in which I am jealous and it doesn’t speak well of my character, but I strongly feel that if we never feel jealousy we can never experience love. Nevertheless, I am jealous of the relationship my son and his wife (C.J.’s Mom and Dad) have with their children. They are better parents than I ever was, way better. They guide and allow, a concept that I never invoked. Mine was control and approve. The love and respect and the fun that their children have for them gives me pause. Is there some way I can go back?
In my experience as a teacher and managing a class I tried to be aware of behaviors and be willing to correct inappropriate actions from some students directed toward others. I hate bullies. Long before I became 6’ 4” and 240 pounds I was bullied by individuals in grade school and couldn’t get away from them. No complaint to a teacher brought me relief, it is still with me today at age 65… this time, I’m glad I can’t go back, I would be afraid of my actions.
In my classroom my method was simple. When “jocks” or the socially “cool” or the wannabe “thugs” started to get the upper hand on some individual that targeted individual was sent to a counselor who, by prearrangement, kept him/her in the office for ten minutes “just checking their schedule” while I talked to my class and reminded them of life’s little disappointments. Their future child might not look right, maybe not talk or walk right, or just not fit in.
“Worse still, your future child could be on the playground or in the classroom with bullies like YOU! How dare you!” I’d say to my class. In the past, leaders and followers have come to me and apologized for their behavior and have brought the victim into their circle.
Toward the end of my teaching career, I was seeing many examples of this bullying social behavior. I saw more and more children taunted by their “friends;” bullied by individuals that morphed into groups; excluded from athletic groups, social groups and academic groups just because of that groups’ perception of what was correct, cool and normal.
Friedrich Nietzsche the German philosopher once commented that humans are the only animal that commits suicide. It is chilling, but it is true. Our young children listen at times to the wrong people with tragic consequences. Their panic and sense of self worth at times pushes them to a place that is hard to imagine. It breaks my heart that I find myself at times powerless to undo what some people have done. I am saddened in my character in that I am now not recognizing the better angels in peoples’ souls but, instead, look for the evil in mankind instead of the good.
My panic and fear is that I can’t be that teacher or the parent for my grandchildren, but it is tempered by the love and support that is extended by their true parents. We as a society have allowed this community of bullies and evil to flourish and we as a society have the power to stop it through education and voice.
Wow, what an articulate, honest and lovely man Grandpa is. And what a superb teacher, I love his bullying strategy. His words made me think about my own parenting – I am far too control and approve (like my own mother, now in her late 70s). I will try to be more guide and allow. Thank you, to Grandpa for his wise words, and to you for sharing them with us.
People who bully those who are different have never known what it’s like to have an original thought, otherwise they wouldn’t be so stupid. Great post, as usual!
Grandpa Colorado reminds me of my own dad. He too was a control and approve type, and tough on us at times. Yet we never doubted his love and commitment, and all of us grew up to become better human beings and parents because of him and my mom. So put those regrets away, Grandpa….you done good!
I think you may want to up date your Cast of Characters page. Grandma and Grandpa Colorado have outgrown their descriptions. In a good way. 🙂
What a great speech to bullies.
I’d never thought of that approach.
i cried, i smiled, i enjoyed! thank you for sharing your story and the perspectives of those around CJ. When CJ reads all of this in the future i’m sure he’ll be as moved (i’m sure more) as we are by the words of Grandpa Colorado.
Grandpa Colorado — Have you ever thought about being an occasional mentor at your grandchildrens’ school? I know you don’t live near them, but maybe when you visit? Or maybe you could try it at one of your local schools? I just feel as though you have a unique perspective to share and it would be wonderful if you could pass it on to future generations.
Wow is right! I could barely get through this post for all the tears streaming down my cheeks. I wish there were more teachers, adults and role models like Grandpa Colorado for our children. What an incredible, loving family CJ is a part of – his soul chose well!!!
Ah, Granpa Colorado, you are a wise and articulate man. I thank you for sharing yourself with us. I, too, look at my daughter and her spouse, and I am in awe at the parents they are. Your words resonate. I see in them a calmness I never mastered and a perspective I never had. To produce children who take the best of who we are, and leave the rest, is amazing to behold.
What a treasure your children have in their grandfather! I just became a parent a month ago, and I hope that my own parents will be as understanding of who my daughter ends up being as your father-in-law (and MIL too!).
I am crying.
How truly touching. It makes me happy to know that CJ has such a wonderful foundation of support and love as he gets older and life becomes more challenging for him.
I want to add my cheers to the comments, but words seem so inadequate. Suffice it to say, I look forward to each and every post. These last ones from CJ’s grandparents have been especially moving. Thank you.
That is so sweet. CJ is lucky to have such a grandpa.
That’s so sweet. I bet it meant a lot to your husband to know that his father admires his parenting so much. I think that every generation tries to learn from the mistakes of the generation before, sometimes it’s hard to break the cycle but it’s nice to read about stories like this.
You are one extremely lucky family, aren’t you all? 🙂
Hooray to both Grandma Colorado and Grandpa Colorado!
I am also sitting here with tears in my eyes. Loved this post as I love all but I am soo passionate about the bully issue. CJ is so lucky to have such loving supportive parents and grandparents and brother….I wish all people thought like Grandpa Colorado!!
Wow, Grandpa Colorado, well done! I wish I had had the pleasure of being in one his classes during our high school years. CJ is a lucky boy to have been born into your family.
I wish there were 100,000 Grandpa Colorado’s in schools today, standing up for what is both right and kind. CJ and his brother have a great team on their side.
The stories of Grandma and Grandpa Colorado have been so wonderful to read. So glad that Grandpa sticks up for those who are singled out and actually takes the time to teach the “normal” kids a lesson in life. Teachable moments are the ones that will last a lifetime to all students – no matter who or what they end up doing later in life.
What a fine grandfather
After ‘hearing’ from Grandpa and Grandma Colorado I think it’s time to change their descriptor in the ‘cast of characters’. I’m so happy for you all to know CJ has so much support and love from his family.
Reminds me of this, if you have a minute to watch;
And cute pup!
His insight to what children face in school is profound and moving; the knowledge about bullying on all levels and across all barriers is the best preparation for any child these days~!
Thank you. This was another excellent post on this wonderful site. I wish all of you happiness, safety and acceptance.
Beautiful; thank you so much for sharing. 🙂
Yeah, wow! I am sitting here with tears in my eyes. This is so amazing! Thank you for sharing your beautiful words and thank you especially for calling mean kids out on their bullying. I am certain you made a positive difference in many kids lives!
Wow, what a powerful and moving post, thank you so much for sharing, Grandpa Colorado 🙂