Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Parental Vindication

This week has brought a feeling of vindication to the Dunnevant home. The work of being a parent is a never ending treadmill of struggle and self doubt, a work without many tangible rewards. It’s like cutting the grass, no matter how well you do it, next week you have to do it all over again. You constantly second guess yourself. Was I too strict? Did I shield them too much from life’s brutal consequences? Did I teach them too much theory and not enough practical life skills? Should I have made them do more chores? Underlying all of this angst is the fearful question; will they make it out there on their own?

Well, this week brings two small rewards, a tantalizing hint that Pam and I just may have pulled it off. My daughter had her first day with students as a middle school English teacher, and my son tried out for the biggest, most prestigious choir he’s even encountered, one that had rejected him a year ago…and made it.

Kaitlin has handled the preparation for her first full time job with uncharacteristic calm. Usually, she hasn’t done well with new things, change. In the past she has been crippled by doubt and feelings of inadequacy. Suddenly, as she has approached this biggest stage of her life, a new Kaitlin has emerged, a confident, well-prepared, professional who seems to know that she’s ready and able. Spending two years cloistered with extremely smart and ideologically hostile people at Wake Forest has apparently instilled a mental and emotional toughness in my daughter that has been thrilling to observe.

Patrick has always been able to rise to the top of every musical environment in which he has been planted. Whether in high school or college he has been able to distinguish himself merely by demonstrating his enormous talent. Then he got accepted at Westminster Choir College for grad school and naturally tried out for their premiere showcase choir, the one that gets to sing behind world famous singers in Central Park, and for the first time in his life, he didn’t make it. To his credit, he didn’t fume and throw a fit like many ego-heavy musicians would have, he just figured he wasn’t good enough and needed to get better as a singer. After getting knocked a few rungs down on the self-esteem ladder, he shrugged it off and went to work. Well, last night he got word that this year, he made it. He couldn’t have been happier, and we are justifiably proud of his hard work and persistence.

Of course, after watching Breaking Bad for the past two weeks, what we are really thankful for is the fact that neither of our children are cooking meth and hiding their rolls of hundred dollar bills in air conditioner vents.

It’s all relative, really. Just thankful for the little things.