|Family Matters Jan/Feb - Page 3|
The shadow side of his exuberance is his tendency to run roughshod over the frailties and needs of others. His passions are strong but short-lived. Consequently, the patient, benevolent encouragement that quiet, compliant children receive from adults often seems unavailable to him. Even the most well-intentioned teachers, coaches, and scout leaders have trouble shaping his focus and energy. Team sports aren't his strength.
Occasionally, someone sees through his volatility and attends to him in a better way than the rest of us can. At an open house at school, I asked his orchestra teacher, a well-respected music instructor, if Dylan, who excels at violin and has an exceptionally accurate sense of pitch, could get into the string orchestra, the school's most prestigious ensemble. He looked at me and said, in a tone of complete confidence and understanding, "Dylan can do anything he wants to." It still brings tears to my eyes to recall that moment, when someone saw the best in my son, contradicting my own inept moments as a father who can't always keep the faith.
Our week with Dylan away at camp is calm. His 10-year-old brother, who enjoys the extra one-on-one time with his mother and me, plays a lot of basketball with friends. My wife and I let our batteries recharge without mentioning Dylan much. We send letters to him at camp and wait for replies.
The following Saturday, my wife and younger son go to his basketball game, and I drive up to San Pedro to wait for the Catalina Express. I joke with the other parents about the clean clothes the boys packed, which are sure to come home untouched. The boys arrive and dutifully accept our hugs, and we each drive off. Dylan talks nonstop for the hour and fifteen minutes that it takes to drive home, occasionally pointing out that I'm interrupting him when I think I'm just asking a clarifying question. I nod and shut up.