In my profile on Facebook there are six children listed as mine. I specify that only two of them are my biological children. The other four are children I have helped raise but with whom I have very limited contact or in the case of the two youngest girls – no contact at all.
One of the most discomforting things about Facebook is that, depending on its useage, it can render important relationships trivial; easily stripping words of their meaning. Unlike business networking sites like Linked-in, for example, where business contacts are labelled connections; on Facebook, the merest of acquaintances can be a friend, sibling or parent if the user wishes them to be.
So when I listed these children as mine I was very cautious for two reasons – I no longer lay claim to the title of parent, a word that should be considered a verb more than a noun (if you aren’t actively parenting then you aren’t actually a parent) and I have no wish to offend the biological parents of these children.
I do however love these children, who have become estranged from me, as my own. And like all declarations of true love – I am happy to shout it from the rooftops.
Aaaaaaaah Shoshie. I’m a little saddened I didn’t get to talk at Shoshie’s Bat Mitzvah like I did at J’s (Shosh’s brother) Bar Mitzvah, but you know, they were probably right in Shoshana’s case, my speech like this posting, would have seemed more like a Celebrity Roast than a tribute. Let me start this right and say that Shosh has grown up to be an absolutely wonderful woman. She really has blossomed. I can apply almost as many positive adjectives as I know to Shosh’s character and be spot-on with them. She is smart, caring, loving, generous, beautiful, sensitive… oh gosh… she’s really just a sweetheart… But that wasn’t always the case.
When Deb (my ex-wife) and I went to the interview for me to get my Green Card , I recall them asking how I was getting along with the kids, and I said, well Jacobs’s a piece of cake, we just got along from day one… Shosh, on the other hand… is going to be a challenge.
If Jacob was the energizer bunny Shosh was the off-the-scale destructo tornado. The most willful, conniving, bad-tempered crazy child ever. We would have to stand at the door and hold it closed whenever she was in time-out, which was frequently. We even considered buying an external lock for her bedroom door… I kid you not. She went way over the top with everything; not only would she willfully disobey any requests, she would taunt you about it, she had tantrums that were so wild; (Shosh I ask to bear all this in mind when you’re baby-sitting your two younger brothers!); tantrums that were so out-of-control that we’d have to pick her up and man-handle her into her bedroom. Have you ever seen the cartoon character Taz? That was Shosh. She tested me in every way possible, she would do mean things just to get at me, she would hit punch and scream she would deliberately cause friction between her dad, her mom and me …just for fun, my goodness did I have to earn her trust.
Here’s where I take my hat off to Deb. Shosh could easily have been a relationship destroyer – she did everything she could to make it as difficult as possible for us, but Deb stood by me one hundred percent. I know from experience in another relationship how difficult that can be and know how crucial it is to the success of the relationship – Deb always backed me up all the way and never questioned my motives, everything was always out in the open and I’m very grateful for that. She really paved the way for the relationship Shosh and I have today, which is nowhere near as close as I’d like it to be, but is loving nevertheless.
I remember always thinking to myself that Shosh needs consistency – always be consistent, when she is nasty and cruel, be kind and patient in return. Keep giving to her and she will come around. Now, I wasn’t always successful, there were definitely times when I lost my temper (and I had to have a time-out) but generally speaking she got the best part of me. I think there were two main turning points in the relationship I have with Shosh. After about three years of living together and Shosh being an absolute biatch… I’d finally had it, I can’t recall the exact incident, it was probably something trivial, but it was enough that it was the last straw for me. It happened one morning, I was driving J and Shosh to school immediately after the incident, as I drove I was looking in the rear vision mirror at Shosh and said “ I love you very much, and I always want to do what is right for you but you’re always so nasty and mean to me,” I was near tears, “but I can’t do it anymore Shosh, I’m not going to keep being nice to you and care for you if you’re going to treat me this way. If you treat me badly I’m going to treat you badly. I don’t want to, I love you. But I can’t be treated like this anymore.” Shosh said nothing, got out at the turnaround and marched off to school. I wasn’t hopeful. But I thought the time was right, that she needed to be called out – sometimes you just have to take risks and I know this was a big one, but we knew each other pretty well by then…. and she knew I’d never be mean to her , she just needed to know how upset I was.
Well, from that day to this, Shosh has been nothing short of angelic with me. Talk about doing a one-eighty! Im so unbelievably happy she chose to hang in there with me, those years of patience and caring have really paid off for us. What it comes down to, is that you really have to earn your stripes with Shosh, she’s not going to lie down, give you her heart and wish for the best; its an excellent quality to have. Very sensible. In the years following we developed a strong loving relationship …which brings me to the second turning point : she would let me sit for hours with her when in her young schooling years she had trouble reading. She’d still throw every excuse in the world to get out of doing it, but in the end she stuck with it. Through all the tears and frustration we pushed our way through didn’t we baby?
Through all of my challenges of late Shosh has been the one most consistent with me. I’m not saying she took my side in the war, hmmm …. lets just call her Switzerland. She’s always been kind to me and always has a smile for me, and I can’t tell her how much that has meant some days.
What a young lady she has turned out to be…quite extraordinary, its hard to believe now but Shosh struggled academically when she was younger. That willpower of hers is amazing, to get to where she is now is remarkable : from remedial reader and struggled with math too (if I remember rightly) to honors list. She is an incredible girl! Its so hard to imagine that Shosh was ever a difficult child, to know her now you wouldn’t even think it possible – she just doesn’t have that in her anymore – thank God! I can’t begin to say how grateful I am that she’s around. She is fabulous with her brothers and I can tell you, they, like me, love her with all their hearts. I know she will be loyal and selfless to all who are lucky enough to call her friend. She is funny and always happy, such a joy in these times. Recently she has shown a natural bent for poetry – keep going Shosh its good stuff – really.
I miss seeing you daily and wish things could be different. Let’s try to make time and see each other more? You are a ray of sunshine. I love you very much.