The Things We Are Measured By

Harmonica

Teghan doesn’t have much patience. If she can’t figure a thing out in the first second that she tries, it will most likely get thrown across the room. But in spite of her impatience, she can also be surprisingly stubborn. This means that the scenario of trying, failing, and then throwing things may repeat itself all day long if she wants something bad enough.

If she makes a mistake she likes us to do it for her. Sometimes it’s as simple as tapping an app on our phone. Even if she has done it a million times, all it takes is one missed tap, and she doesn’t want to do it on her own anymore. Then in secret I will catch her “practicing.” It’s as if she is facing a constant battle between self-doubt and determination. Aren’t we all?

Her lack of awareness when it comes to social situations gets me out of a lot of typical parent/kid discussions. She has no conversation skills. She doesn’t know how to play with other people. This also means no hurt feelings, broken friendships, or competition with others.  She only competes with herself, and she has her own definition of winning.

I have seen her face light up when she figures something out for the first time. Maybe I am missing an opportunity here. I have been thinking about my own childhood (as I do), and how my accomplishments and failures affected me. And I think I am approaching this parenting topic all wrong. There is a lesson on winning and losing that I don’t think I am off the hook for after all.

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Losing a Part of Our Youth in a Wisconsin Motel

1995

 

There was a brief period of time in 1995 when Dave and I were engaged to be married, but we were living in two different states. We were young. We had jobs one would expect youngsters to have. We both lived at home with our parents. We had gotten our first taste of freedom by joining a group that toured the country and required no actual independence or responsibility- and we had spent that year falling madly in love.

There was never any question that we were going to get married. Breaking up was not an option, and we were absolutely young and naive. But, to our credit- we were right to have acted on that stupidity. It’s still the best decision I ever made.

I lived in Michigan, and Dave lived in Illinois. During this time of separation, a trip was planned for a family reunion in Wisconsin, where I would meet my future father-in-law’s family. I would take a train to Chicago, where Dave and his brother would pick me up. Then we would swing by and pick up Dave’s other brother in Madison on our way to LaCrosse. Dave’s aunt and uncle owned a motel where we would all be staying.

When we arrived at the motel, they were overbooked. Dave’s sister thought it would be fun if she and I spent the night in a tent in the motel parking lot. And yes, even though I could see a nearby motel with vacant rooms, and I had cash in my pocket- that is what we did (this isn’t crucial to my story; I just needed to talk about the fact that this happened).   Continue reading