Saturday, October 6, 2012

Finding the Edges

by Jon Simpson

heavy.  intimidating.  sometimes just... wow. i've only just started the journey with the lives of my two girls, and from what relatively little i've experienced with them and know of them and their history, i'm aware this path will test (is testing) my mettle in ways other stretches of the road haven't.

i'm a "stranger," showing up five years late to "accept" these girls, to tell them they are beautiful (not because of how they look or behave, but because they just are), to show them they are loved, to demonstrate they are valuable beyond any earthly appraisal.  and i'll likely spend the rest of my days living out the proof of it.  my integrity in these areas will play a critical role in those truths having any chance of taking root in them.

if i'm coming off sounding melodramatic, it's not my intention. i sincerely don't believe i'm exaggerating in the least.

one of things about children that i'm often grateful for (and other times not so grateful, when it's popped up to bite me) is that children aren't usually baffled by bull.  in their simplicity of thought and careful observation of conduct, they know that how you behave is who you really are.  the father who talks a good game and then doesn't have the integrity to "walk the walk" is on shaky ground.  yet i think children usually have such capacity for hope and faith in the human race; it certainly surpasses mine.   so while it may take a good while for the ties between a father and a child to stretch thin (as the child tries to somehow rationalize incongruence away), when it finally does break, it breaks hard.

it's a strange dynamic that my girls are dealing with, having no concept of father.  their caregivers at the orphanage have tried to teach the girls not to trust strangers, and yet they've also been told to trust a changing cast of caregivers and teachers.  Now, without any previous life experience of what a family or a mother and/or father are, my girls are thrust out of everything they've known (as imperfect as it may have been) and into a drastically different paradigm.  what a combination.

so they've got to figure it out.  and we've got to help them.  and it's a process...for the girls and for us. we don't know exactly where they're at, what they're getting and how well, and what they're not.  and they don't know where we're at, how things work, what the real differences are between us and the other institutions they've been in...

and, if you know kids, it'll be no surprise that one of the ways the girls are figuring things out is by finding the edges.  discovering where the boundaries are.  and what happens when they get crossed.  by doing this, they're finding out who their father is.  they're finding out WHAT a father is.  and i'm finding out what kind of father i am.

This is the final in a series of four posts by guest blogger Jon Simpson.  Thanks, Jon, for sharing thoughts on the journey.

Check out Jon's website or blog for more on the "thoughts and happenings in the life of a musician, singer, songwriter, traveler, father, husband, brother, son, etc., etc."