A great wave of contentment overcame me as I watched Rosa and her granddaughter play in the park this morning from a distance. I sat at a sun-drenched picnic table watching on like a hapless bystander while adding to the freckle count upon my fair skin. I do not have much experience with children as an adult. I am actually scared of kids and worry that I may scare them as well. I then turned around in my seat to watch the throng of Vietnamese immigrants fishing on the riverbank for carp which fascinated me. I don't see how they can eat those overly bony fish was the most pressing thought on my mind at the time, dividing my attention between them and Rosa and her granddaughter.
I often brag to my father about the lucidity with which I avoided children. My mother, also a schizophrenic, put us through hell as children with violence, mania, and general chaos and emotional abuse. She didn't regain her sanity until I was a grown man and she found doctors and medications that helped. I vowed to stop the cycle that had gone on for generations. I knew from an early age that I would make a piss poor parent. I have a hard enough time trying to keep my little world in order let alone the world of another small being dependent upon me as did my mother before me.
On the drive home, Rosa turned to me and looked long and hard as if she was going to say something. I was concentrating on driving and was also deep in thought about little dependent humans in general. I broke my silence and turned to Rosa to tell her I was sorry in an effort to read her mind about what she was going to say. I just knew she was going to say something about my aloofness at the park.
"Sorry for what?" Rosa asked, looking befuddled.
"Sorry for not being better with kids."
Rosa laughed and reached for my hand.
"You remind me of my father when he was a young man," Rosa said. "I barely remember him, but he always seemed so at unease around me."
"Kids get my social anxieties going," I replied. "I feel like I have to perform – have to set an example. I am a poor example."
Rosa scolded me for being so self deprecating.
"The main thing is just to love them," she said of children. "That is what kids want most."
I nodded my head in agreement thinking of my own childhood and the constant search for my mother's sanity and her lost affection. I wanted to just cry deep, long, and hard, but kept it together long enough to take Rosa and child home. I realized I could never remember my mother hugging me or holding me as a youngster. I still find myself searching for that affection I never got from her. Even as a grown man, I want to sob like a small, scolded adolescent over it and the deeply guarded resentment it fosters. Good thing I am in therapy. I will keep my therapist busy for years.