Skip to main content

Kidstuff




One of the most profound experiences of my life was to hold my son, my first child, when he was about 5 minutes old. He'd had a bit of a struggle to arrive. Quite liked it where he was, actually, and didn't fancy the delivery room of St. George's hospital in comparison. He'd needed a bit of assistance to make the two foot journey and he got here blue and exhausted. After the professionals had checked him over they wrapped him in a blanket and gave him to me. I held him and looked at his eyes and couldn't believe how blue they were. I looked at him and another consciousness looked intelligently back. He didn't have those random unfocused wandering eyes of other newborns, such as the two sisters who followed over the course of the next few years. He was focused, quizzical, enquiring, not quite understanding who I was, where he was or what he was doing there. One of the two midwives present said knowingly,"this one's been here before...". It was not a sentiment a conventional Christian such as myself could go along with at the time, but I could see exactly why she said it.

That was twenty nine years ago and he's now one of those people who gets paid to fiddle with computers. He lives and works and London, and over the Christmas holidays he got engaged to Chramayne (link here), a beautiful young Australian woman whom he works with. A couple of weeks ago, his younger sister Bridget, not to be outdone, followed suit. Bridget is a lawyer and works for Vodafone in Auckland and she and Scott have been an item for I can't remember how many years. They took a holiday to Fiji and there was an episode with a chunky diamond glistening in the tropical sunset. So it's two weddings for 2010, and though Catherine our youngest has shown no signs of engagement yet, she has finally and completely left the nest. She's in Wellington looking for work that will pay the bills while she follows her true vocation: pretending to be someone else while other people watch, clap and, hopefully, pay for the privilege.

The time between that first startled encounter and waving the last of the 737s off from Dunedin airport seems ridiculously short and yet it is three lifetimes long. They are all of them making their way in the world, all on the very brink of things which will shape them and form them for the rest of their lives. All of them, despite the emailing and texting and skyping and the trips back South, are making their own way now and doing a pretty good job of it. It's what the task of parenting is about: letting go; doing your best to ensure that they are strong enough to live apart from you; knowing that the relationship is primarily about them, not about you. Perhaps that's what all love is about. Surrender, giving up. Which I've been thinking a bit about as Lent rolls around, and which I'll try and write about tomorrow.

Comments

Kathryn said…
Hi Kelvin, I can relate to your feelings about your offspring all growing up and flying away to live their own lives. Sometimes it's not so easy when they don't seem to need you anymore, is it?
But that is what we, as parents, are supposed to do isn't it? It is a real achievement to have children who grow up to be independant people who don't need to keep coming back for approval. I miss my children when I don't hear from them or see them so much, but it means that they don't need me. I love to hear from them with good news, when they are happy or just want to share something with me, or to chat. And I especially love those beautiful grand children - now that is really something for you to look forward to.

Congratulations to the engaged couples, best wishes to Catherine as she follows her dream, and well done to you and Clemency! You are very successful parents! :-)
Dan Gurney said…
You write: "Perhaps that's what all love is about. Surrender, giving up."

When I think about my life, the love that I feel for both my parents (now dead) and my children (now adult) is definitely two-way. I like to think of love being about giving, period. In his book, Love and Death, Church makes the point that love can transcend death. My mother, for example, gave me a love of music. Her love of music lives on, with appreciation for my mother, in me.

My sense is that love flows forward, as you describe, from parent to child, but also back through time towards our ancestors.
Anonymous said…
Kelvin, you should be terribly proud of your children, and the job you and your wife have done with them. I know from bitter experience that things can go terribly wrong with children, regardless of how hard one tries to be a good parent, and I can only say congratulations!

Popular posts from this blog

En Hakkore

In the hills up behind Ranfurly there used to be a town, Hamilton, which at one stage was home to 5,000 people. All that remains of it now is a graveyard, fenced off and baking in the lonely brown hills. Near it, in the 1930s a large Sanitorium was built for the treatment of tuberculosis and other respiratory ailments. It was a substantial complex of buildings with wards, a nurses hostel, impressive houses for the manager and superintendent and all the utility buildings needed for such a large operation. The treatment offered consisted of isolation, views and weather. Patients were exposed to the air, the tons of it which whistled past, often at great speed, the warmth of the sun and the cold. They were housed in small cubicles opening onto huge glassed verandas where they cooked in the summer and froze in the winter and often, what with the wholesome food and the exercise, got better. When advances in antibiotics rendered the Sanitorium obsolete it was turned into a Borstal and the

Camino, by David Whyte

This poem captures it perfectly Camino. The way forward, the way between things, the way already walked before you, the path disappearing and re-appearing even as the ground gave way beneath you, the grief apparent only in the moment of forgetting, then the river, the mountain, the lifting song of the Sky Lark inviting you over the rain filled pass when your legs had given up, and after, it would be dusk and the half-lit villages in evening light; other people's homes glimpsed through lighted windows and inside, other people's lives; your own home you had left crowding your memory as you looked to see a child playing or a mother moving from one side of a room to another, your eyes wet with the keen cold wind of Navarre. But your loss brought you here to walk under one name and one name only, and to find the guise under which all loss can live; remember you were given that name every day along the way, remember you were greeted as such, and you neede

Turn Sideways Into The Light

David Whyte speaks in his audio series What To Remember When Waking of the myth of the Tuatha De Danann. They were a mythical race from Ireland's past who were tall, magical, mystical people devoted to beauty and artistry. When another more brutal people, the Milesians invaded Ireland the Tuatha De Danann fought them off in two battles, but were faced with a third, decisive battle against overwhelming odds. So, lined up in battle formation and facing almost certain defeat, the Tuatha De Danann turned sideways into the light and disappeared. Whyte's retelling is, to put it mildly, a gloss, but I am quite taken with the phrase and with the phenomenon it describes. Turning sideways into the light is the realisation that there are some encounters that are damaging to all involved in them: no one wins a war. Faced with such an exchange, to turn sideways into the light is to seek another, more whole form of relationship. It is to reject the ground rules of the conversation as they

Centering Prayer Retreat

    A 3 day taught retreat in the practice of Centering Prayer.   Saturday October 2 2021 - Monday October 4 2021 Centering Prayer is a form of Christian silent contemplative prayer. This retreat is suitable for beginners in silent prayer, or for more experienced practitioners wishing to refresh their practice.  The retreat will be held in the En Hakkore retreat centre in the hills above Waipiata in the Maniototo. There will be daily sessions of silent prayer, instruction and discussion. The venue is spacious and set in an expansive landscape. there will be some time for personal reflection.  The cost is $175 per person which includes 2 nights accommodation and all meals.   Since the beginning, following the example of Jesus, there has been a tradition of silent prayer in the Christian Church. Over the centuries this tradition faded from the popular view and became confined to monasteries. It was kept alive by a largely ignored, but never fading lineage of Christian contemplatives.  

70

This photo was taken by my daughter Catherine, when I was about 50. I think she did a pretty good job.  The number 70 has a kind of Biblical gravitas. It’s the number of elders appointed by Moses to lead the recalcitrant Israelites, and the number of people who went down to join Joseph, in Egypt. Jesus sent 70 disciples out to minister in his name, and the first Jewish Sanhedrin had 70 blokes in it. And, of course, there is Psalm 90:10:  “ The days of our life are threescore years and ten, and if by reason of strength they be fourscore, yet is their strength labour and sorrow, for it is soon cut off and we fly away ”. All this has some personal import because I turn 70 today, and can no longer fool myself that I am middle aged. I’m old. And before you feed me one of the lines of balderdash that pass for wisdom in our culture - “you’re only as old as you feel”; “70 is the new 50”; “age is just a number” or some other such nonsense, let me tell you that I am happy to be old. Deliriously