Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Vince



Vince - about ten minutes old.


The story of Vince is a wild an untamed one.  My first born son was born at 1:56 in the morning on April 9, 1985. I had been in labor all day and he finally emerged, a ten on the apgar scale – a perfect birth.

Most things of value in your life sneak up on you and fill your world with a new wonder, excitement and worry.  Vince’s birth was no different.  Pregnancy was a surprise and caused me to re-evaluate my life – something I had never done as intensely before.  I cleaned up a lot of "loose ends" and focused on what I knew was important and by the time I was ready to deliver Vince, I thought I had a better handle on things.

That is, until Vince was born.

He was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen – ask any new mother how long it took to put down their baby.  He was bright and peaceful, a son I didn’t deserve.  I held him in my arms and cooed like someone had given me the moon and the stars – and I thanked God for all of the joy in my life. I also worried and obsessed about every little thing.  What if I messed it all up?  What if I wasn't good enough to be a mom?

I vowed to make something of my life and pass anything I had of value on to this child.   Even after the relationship with his father didn’t work out, I was hopeful that everything was for the best.

Vince grew quickly and displayed remarkable curiosity, taking forever examining books, globes, shapes, legos – anything around.  Once, while I was renewing my license at the DMV he pointed out to the clerk that one of the structures in her cubicle was in the shape of a triangle.  She looked at me and smiled.

“How old is he?”

“Twenty months,” I answered proudly.  As far as I was concerned, Vince was the smartest kid in the world. 

It was the easiest thing to see about him: his fine mind.  I loved reading to him for hours on end and eventually he taught himself – he read before he entered kindergarten and his teacher thought I was pushing him to learn everything before he had his first year of school.
Preschool Graduation - 1989

“Remember to let him be a kid,” she said, in true condescension.  “He has all the time in the world to learn at his own pace.”

“I don’t push him,” I answered, truthfully.  “He taught himself.”

She didn’t believe me and went through a lengthy explanation of how phonetic structure was impossible to learn by osmosis...blah, blah, blah. 

Whatever.

Mrs. King didn’t seem to irritate Vince as much as she did me.  He kind of liked her....

“Mom,” he said to me one day after I picked him up from school.  “Mrs. King is a beautiful woman, but she is starting to get wrinkles.  Do you think I should tell her?”

I laughed.  “No, Vince, don’t ever tell a woman she’s getting wrinkles.”

I drove for awhile before it dawned on me that I was aging myself.  “Do I have wrinkles?”  I asked him.
“No mom,” he looked up at me with a sincere face.  “You look like God created you yesterday.”

What a schmooze.

Years past by and my young, handsome, deep thinker became a man.  Like most men, Vince started defining what he believed – much of it very unlike what I had “raised him to believe.”  He told me one night on the phone that he was a socialist – and he meant it.

“How can you be a Socialist?” I asked him. I was confused: Socialist had full beards and denied the existence of God.  They loved Cuba and China and said bad things about America.  How could my son be this?

Vince was silent for awhile and then sighed.  “Mom, I’ve been a Socialist for awhile,” he said.  “You really don’t pay much attention to these things when I talk about them.”

What?

When we got off the phone, I went into deep prayer.  “Please, God... save my son from being a Socialist.”  It went like this for about an hour until I finally remembered that God knew more about Vince than I did. 

“What is bothering you?” I felt God asking me.  “What bothers you about that word?  Vince has always been a Socialist – I made him that way.”

The voice of God was certain – but why would He say this?

Then he showed me:  Even as a young child, Vince wanted everything to be fair and equal.  It was a passion of his; he loved justice.  He hated the abuse of power – he knew there was a way for a fair distribution of wealth.  Fairness; equality; truth.

The noble purposes of socialism were alive in Vince’s heart.  I was so busy thinking he was my baby, my son who was so bright and creative and believed what I told him to – that I forgot he had grown up.  He was now a man who had grown to think for himself.  This epiphany caused me to pray for understanding.

Gaming with Vince  
More and more of my prayers are now that I understand people – especially my own children – like God does.  So I now listen closer, knowing that I am not their only teacher. 

So today, April 9th, I remember Vince and his big heart – a man who wants the world to be fair and equal.  He loves guns – restoring them and shooting them – after I had outlawed them in our house.  He loves Hondas and can’t believe I bought a Hyundai.  He’s a fabulous cook and can make menudo just like my grandma used to.

Today he turns twenty-eight. 

Really, I don’t care about getting older. No part of it scares me, but I do know that I have wasted a lot of time wishing my kids were a certain way and not thanking God enough that they are who they are.  I am still learning to love what they appreciate.  I’m learning to tell them how much I respect them even when I don’t agree with their choices. 

 I love Vince and he has taught me to enjoy many things – even X-box. 

Even if he weren't my son, I’d still love hanging out with him. 

Vince and Rikki, the day they adopted Eddy