I don’t know much about parenting, but I knew a kid once.
This really has nothing to do with the Packers outside of the fact that this is my Packer’s fan blog. However, it brings up an interesting point about life, priorities, and fan hood.
I am fiercely loyal as a fan (did I need to say that?). As many of you guys around here, I would go down fighting in a ball of flames to display my allegiance to this football team. At times, again like many of you, I often think of this pursuit as invariable and inestimable. Yet, sometimes life catches you peaking in the backfield and suddenly you find yourself reevaluating your position. That happened this weekend, and since this blog highlights my life as a Packer fan, I thought I would share the story.
Corey Behnke inferred that I use this place for therapeutic purposes. In fact, he is spot on. Writing strictly in my stream of consciousness is wonderfully curative, and more than anything, this little dung hole right here has gone a long way in purging some of the bitterness and hate I have towards myself and the world in general (me bitter, no way). The unfortunate part is that you guys are my therapists (that just finally hit home) so I worry about the level I care I truly am receiving.
That said, as a younger man, having an outlet like this would have gone a long way. I was different cat back then, more concerned with the next bong hit than the next personal breakthrough. I made a lot of mistakes, hurt a lot of people, and threw away a world of potential before I could even drink. Those mistakes were, and still are to some point, a huge personal yoke that I have carried around for longer than I can remember.
While on this youthful journey of irresponsibility and poignant wretchedness, I happened to somehow fall in love with a cute little red-haired mop-top that I absolutely adored. As with all young adults, our relationship was vigorous and much to my surprise, in 1994, we were rewarded with a son that could not have been more of a dead ringer than to yours truly.
The girl immediately left me.
Families become protective in those types of situations, and I suppose you can’t blame them. Regardless, I was completely shattered. Granted, I was young and dumb, but I was hardly a menace, so I took the whole “why” thing pretty hard. And, as many young people do, instead of rising to the occasion, I chose to bow to the pain.
The next couple of years were rough, and it’s fairly amazing how far I fell before hitting the proverbial rock bottom. In the end, I was wholly beat down by life; beat down hard.
Although there would be a few potholes over the next couple of years, my life came to a head in August of 1997. Amidst a bevy of authority figures, and completely caught off guard, I was asked to give up my son for adoption to his mother and new husband. I didn’t want to do it. I really didn’t.
I don’t know why I did, and no one tried to talk me out of it.
As an adoptee myself, I had a unique view of everything, and perhaps I wanted to ensure that the youngster had a chance to grow up in a two parent home which was something he would never have with me as a father. Alternately, it may have just been my way of saying I’m sorry to everyone around me, sacrificing my own desires for the sake of mother and child. The last contact I had with his mother was a fleeting phone call filled with an empty promise of periodic pictures and perhaps a rare update, both of which never materialized.
That all changed on Wednesday.
I was sitting around working on my homework. It was a delicate balance of advanced rhetoric and the what I consider boring task of reading Plato’s dialogues. At the same time, my facebook account is linked to my desktop on my computer, so whenever there is a pertinent update it pops up with a rather annoying little submarine type pinging noise. Right in the middle of Gorgias, somewhere on question 8 million, a message pops up in front of what I am writing.
“This is your son, since I don’t know anything about you; I thought I should get to know you.”
I instantly went into complete and total shock. Before I even got to the end of the sentence I broke down. I absolutely couldn’t think straight at all. It’s funny what you do in moments like that and in my own moment of fogginess I decided to email my professor and get an extension on my assignment. I hope this stands as a testament to my character today, but regardless, that was my first reaction.
My second reaction was to tell him how absolutely thrilled I was to hear from him, and offer to arrange something with his folks so that we could talk in-depth. As the story goes, this now 16-year-old young man had not sought his parents’ permission to contact me. He had in fact been blocked from all contact with me, and I am assuming that through a delicate process only a teenager can figure out, he managed to bypass those restrictions and get into contact with me. He was curious and he had questions.
The third thing I did is call the cops. How shitty is that? My son, whom I haven’t heard from ever, finally gets a hold of me and I have to call the cops on him to make sure it’s okay to talk. What a sad world we live in, and what a heartbreaking situation for a young man to have to deal with (he told me he had been waiting 6 weeks to pull the trigger on that message).
Much to my surprise the police said go for it. They sent me to an officer who said that this situation was not considered a police matter, and he commended me for making the right decision in both calling and urging the young man to tell his parents. It was at this point I decided to go for it.
We talked back and forth for several hours. I thought that each message I sent was going to be the last, and I tried to get everything I have wanted to say for 15 years into what might be the only two hours I get until 2012. I told him the entire story. I was able to tell him my side, and how difficult it has been to deal with this decision and my inability to take it back. I assured him that no matter what I was always here if he needed me. We got to talk music (several identical favorites) and generally tried to have a conversation in one of the most unique situations ever. It was surreal.
I ended the conversation again urging him to tell his parents so that we could move forward. My thought was that if this child really wanted to find out more about his biological father, his parents might find it in their heart to let that happen. I heard from him briefly the next morning, and have not heard a thing since.
It’s all I can think about now. Did he tell his parents and get in trouble? Is that it for another 2 years until he turns 18? I just don’t know what to do? I don’t want to intrude, but I also want it to be known that I am here and will not ever turn my back on this child again. I’ll only play the fool one time.
I’m scared and I don’t know what is going to happen next. I don’t what my rights are, and more importantly I haven’t figured out what the responsible decision is here. Being adopted, I know how it feels to wonder like this young man must be doing right now. I pray to the powers that be to let him have the opportunity to put that behind him. I guess all I can do is wait.
I am such a different person than that confused and depressed young man in 1997, and I try (often unsuccessfully) to continue to improve on that statement each and every day. That said, regardless of the outcome, things like this give me a great perspective on life. I periodically do an evaluation of what’s important to me and for the most part it’s a pretty standard list that always includes the Green Bay Packers. When something like this hits you in the face, you realize that some things are in a category far beyond our simple passions in life. They are times that call for us to take a moment of kairos and make the right decisions. I hope I can do just that.
I would climb any mountain to have the opportunity to know this young man for the rest of his life.
I’d even root Vikings.
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