Estranged from my peers Part 2

While at the Aquarium yesterday it occurred to me that I would make a great father. My relation with my father was, at best strained. As Robert Bly noted “we inherit our father’s tiredness” My father was busy coping with the insanity of his parents. Felix and Lucy struggled with every day life as they coped with keeping a roof over their head. No wonder Betty fled to California.

So, between working out things with his parents and coping with the onrush of kids (7 kids in 10 years) it’s no wonder that dad was such a distant, fearful force in life. I was afraid of disappointing him. When I did, he was angry. I craved some positive reinforcement from him. When I was helping with a project in the house and he praised me, was elated. Those praises were few and far between. His coldness and distance forced me into the arms of mother. Looking back, I don’t think he could help himself. Nor could I.

So, the wonder and excitement of kids tickles me. I couch down and listen to their questions, ask them what they’re feeling and seeing. I help guide them in the experience of the sharks, rays, horseshoe crabs — even the whale cart. They bring me such joy. Although I agreed to work longer yesterday (I was exhausted when I got home) I was buoyed up by the wonder in the children’s eyes. I was amazed at the bouncing energy of the Vietnamese boy who kept circling back to play with the exhibit and ask questions. I was also amazed at the hysteria of the little boy at the Moon Jellies who screamed at anyone touching the free-floating blobs. He was very loud!

Perhaps being a priest was a way of being a “father.” I enjoyed working with the kids. Not so much their parents and grandparents.

So, volunteering at the Aquarium is a way that the “father” in me comes out. It’s too late for kids of my own. Dad is dead and may he rest in peace. Grab the gusto when it comes my way.

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