Just like other parents, I am struggling to be the right kind of parent. I am both the mom and the dad in our family. As a parent, I feel like I could spend my entire time trying to guide my kids to make good decisions. Now they are entering adulthood and it feels like time is up. Last night I had this incredible dream. It was clear to me as the waters it took place on. Set in the north shores of the Great Lakes region of Canada. It pretty much sums up my experience trying to offer guidance to an emerging adult.
You and I were each in a separate dingy
We were heading through channels
In the wild Great Lakes
Very big open water as you know
Lots of shoals too
We needed to get to this harbour
Food and shelter
I knew the way to our safe destination
But I didn’t know for sure
what the conditions would be like
from one channel to the next.
It was winter-spring and
the thaw had made the waterways
deep and rough and icy
Even though I should be able to lead the way
I wasn’t 100 % sure
While you were paddling ahead
You kept asking me the way
When I tried to explain each upcoming passage and how we would get through it,
You would drift away out of earshot.
Then the biggest channel of all was approaching
This channel was the big mystery of our trip and the most important one
It could either be huge rapids that we needed to skirt
Or a fast moving slope
with a big falling whirling hole at the bottom
that would sent us (if we survived the rapids)
down the wrong fork of the waterway.
Before entering this channel there were
little islands of ice in this bay
Families and kids were playing out
On the ice
Even the thin ice.
It was amazing how strong and confident they all seemed.
None of them said hello or even
Acknowledged our presence.
At one point my raft got stuck
On an ice shelf.
At that moment I saw that you were
heading though the next channel on your own
And you had also taken my paddle with you!
That next channel of water would either have
huge swells of rapids
You wanted to go left
Which I knew was the wrong direction.
It was a destination, I would agree, but not the one I thought we needed.
I knew the only way to get to our food and shelter
would be to stay to the right above the rapids to avoid the falls.
You looked back and realized that I was stuck you waited at the very edge of the channel.
I found a hockey stick abandoned on the ice
so I took it and used it to
Launch back into the moving water.
There were children and parents playing hockey
around me on the ice as I made my way.
The ice grew thinner and thinner as I paddled with my
skinny useless hockey stick trying to catch up to you.
Still kids running around nearby
I did not speak to them.
I could only paddle for my life - your life.
I used the handle of my hockey stick to bash a hole through the thin ice to demonstrate the danger to them as I departed
I hoped that at least the kids around me would see the risk.
They didn’t seem worried at all.
When I caught up to you we argued some more
which way to go.
There ahead were the swollen rapids.
You were convinced that going left was the better way
To the left the current would swiftly take us to a calm bay.
There was no harbour there.
It was undeveloped wild stunning shoreline.
It was calm and quiet and pleasantly unpopulated.
In the summer young people would go there to camp and
get away from the busy harbour.
But there was no time to argue
because the current was now taking us towards the mouth of the rapids.
Then a large wooden boat full of harbour folk came by.
They were heading towards the place from
where we just came.
They helped us get past the rapids
by using their boat as a barrier
so we could stay above them and enter the harbour safely.
When we got to our destination we were separated for a day or two
Sleeping and thawing.
When I saw you next, your face was covered in soot.
It seemed like you must have fallen asleep face down in a pile of coal dust from an old fire.
When I pointed out that your face was all blackened
(to be helpful)
you were angry, embarrassed and even argued that
I was lying and tricking you.
Here we were together and safe.
I had guided you best I could.
You still were debating with me
about matters that were plainly clear.
Things that you were wrong about but not ready to know.
Ignorance and innocence is
the birthplace of
I can’t tell you which way to go for much longer.
I can only take comfort knowing that
you know how to paddle,
and you know how to wash your face.
Even when you fall asleep and wake up in the wrong place
you can start a completely new journey
with or without my guidance and my opinions.
I can also take comfort knowing
there will be help along the way
from others in the community.
And I have faith in knowing that even with everything
you’ve been through
Your past doesn’t equal your future.