I’ve been spending less time trying to control things and more time noticing what is. Sounds Zen, right? I’m not sure if that’s it.
Last night, Binker talked to me about choosing a band instrument for next year. I was surprised, because he’s a singer–he loves being in chorus. I thought for sure he’d choose choir in 5th grade. And, the instruments he was talking about were random, and I really think he has no idea what he wants to do.
I’m finding myself stepping back a lot more with these kinds of decisions. It’s not a conscious thing, it’s just happening. I’m noticing him. I’m noticing a 4th grade consciousness grappling with how to even make this kind of decision. He’s like a loose piece on a desk or chair–I could grab a clamp, stick it on, twist it tight, make sure that piece doesn’t fall off! I could add glue, stand there a while, make sure that clamp stays on–here is the instrument you should play, but really you should choose choir… But I’m finding myself waiting to see if he can get himself put together. I’ll catch him if he falls.
I’ve learned that I really don’t know anything. I could think I knew what was best for them, and gaslight them into choosing that. But what if I’m wrong? (It’s been known to happen.) If I leave it to them, it’s on them. And maybe they’ll learn something about making decisions. Shit, my life choices haven’t all been sparkly perfect. In fact, I’d probably change….uh, MANY of them…decades, even. (My own parents can kindly zip it, please.) I can’t presume to know that a child’s choice is the wrong one. Plus, there are no wrong choices if we’re talking Zen and stuff.
When I was set on Tuna continuing piano, it was Latefordinner who had to convince me he was a drummer. I remember it in slow motion–the two of them standing there, trying to convince me. Tuna looking helpless, Latefordinner stepping toward me, holding my face, speaking in that low, super slo mo voice, “Thhe boyyyy iiiissss aaaa DRUUUUMMMMMMERRRR. Hhhee doessssn’t neeeeeedd morrrrre piannno lessssonnnns.” My shoulders slumped. What the hell did I know, anyway? The boy was a drummer.
Why this shift to just guiding? Sadly, I have to give some credit to Tuna. Grief depletes your energy like…man…like you’ve lost some of your own life. Like that machine thing in The Princess Bride that sucks years off of your life. It’s like you’re hooked up to that thing 24/7, but it’s invisible and you have to carry it on your back, and pretend it’s not there. With your new limited mental, emotional, and physical capacities from carrying around the grief machine; you’re forced to slow down. There’s no more extra effort to make things perfect. Things just are as they are. That machine won’t let you do any more than BE there. It drains you of all but the bare minimum to keep going. Of course, you’re still there underneath it–I’m still there for my boys–I just can’t carry anyone else’s burdens anymore. Silver lining: Their strength grows when they carry their own.
So, I don’t know if that’s a Zen thing, or just self-preservation. Is there a difference? Don’t know that either. An old friend used to call me “Zen Jen”. Maybe this grief machine is forcing me back to that simplicity. Stupid insight. I’d rather be less enlightened and have my Tuna back, but if we’re talking Zen and stuff, I guess this is just what freaking IS now.