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|Family Matters Jan/Feb - Page 4|
Camp sucked. Camp was fun. He hated it. He wished he could have stayed longer. But most revealing was his talk of the adults. His sensitivity and anger at adults for being critical, condescending, patronizing, or humiliating, burned through his talk. His respect for the adults and older teens who'd taught and led well, and respected him, shone through just as much. I hear a vulnerability in him that I often miss at home, when I fall into the chorus of corrections, prompts, and scoldings that are all too easy to dish out.
By the time we pull up to the house, I begin to appreciate Dylan in a new way. It wasn't any one thing he said that gave me insight: rather, it was the pure, unadulterated listening to his experiences, with all the range of emotion and perception that they'd stimulated in him. His experiences matched the highs and lows that he and I have known over the years. I flash to my small fatherly successes and my seemingly larger failures: the bursts of anger and frustration that I've directed at him.
I think of his orchestra teacher, and it all comes together in a burst of clarity that's almost painful. I feel more alert, more present for Dylan. I begin to remember with a fresh mind what he needs of me.
I know that I'll still struggle at times to hear the urgency of his voice, losing myself in the distraction of his behavior. We'll never be perfect together. But I know how much I want to match his voice with my own, calling out to him from the boat terminal, sometimes hoarse and constricted, but wanting always to boom out, across any waters, full-throated, never failing him.
Richard Lappin, L.C.S.W., is a psychotherapist in private practice in Rancho Santa Margarita and San Juan Capistrano, California. He's currently working on a CD of original songs, The Crooked Way Back Home. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters to the Editor about this department may be e-mailed to email@example.com