A thought about parenthood, with an illustration from the life of DeSean Jackson

Kid number 1 has graduated from college, and kid number 2 has turned 21.  So the question naturally arises: Are we done yet?

We would really like to answer yes — this stuff is hard!  We want to relax and watch HGTV reruns!  But that’s absurd.  And whenever we’re tempted to do a victory lap, we recall the scene from the movie Parenthood where Jason Robards has just had to deal with his ne’er-do-well 20-something son, played by Tom Hulce.  Talking about it with his other son (Steve Martin), he says something like: “Parenthood isn’t football.  You never get into the end zone.  You never get to spike the ball.”

This seems like deep wisdom to me.  And nowadays we have an illustration of that wisdom.  As we all know from the movie Silver Linings Playbook, DeSean Jackson is the man:

But DeSean Jackson is not without his flaws.  And here is one of them, on display for all Monday Night Football viewers to see:

Even in football, where you can spike the ball (at least in the pros), you can’t spike it too soon, or you’ll be held up to the ridicule of two million YouTube viewers.  (Technically, I suppose what Jackson did was not a spike; Jackson is too cool to just spike the ball.  But you get my point.)  So we parents have to learn from his mistake.  Life is long (we hope) and filled with milestones, happy and sad.  We get to celebrate the happy ones, but we always have to be prepared for the next one, whatever it may be.  Because that’s the way the game is played.

Parental Palimpsest

Here is son number two celebrating his 21st birthday:


So I guess we’re all done with parenting now, right?

Okay, maybe not.

At any rate, it seems to me that, to a parent, your child is a bit like a palimpsest: beneath the current surface are all the other layers of his life, visible only to you.  So beneath that smiling adult face I still see this guy:

Mark in car0001

And this guy:

Mark in car0002

. . . and a million others in between.

Happy birthday, Mark!