Sunday, April 7, 2013
Advice from Alcatraz
In one of my classes, we're reading Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko right now. The story takes place in 1935 on Alcatraz Island, where Matthew "Moose" Flanagan and his family have recently moved. Moose's dad has taken a job at the prison, so Moose's sister can attend a special school in nearby San Francisco. Moose is unhappy about the move and wants to return to his old life in Santa Monica. Early in the book he is talking to his dad about it and says, "I want to know for certain this is going to work out." Mr. Flanagan's response has been echoing in my head all weekend. This is what he tells his son: "Nobody knows how things will turn out, that’s why they go ahead and play the game, Moose. You give it your all and sometimes amazing things happen, but it’s hardly ever what you expect.” One thing I've learned in my twenty-six years of parenting is how very true that is. Each one of my kids is different from the other two; what I learned in parenting one of them has helped very little in parenting the other two. Their paths through life have been as different as they are, even though they came from the same gene pool, grew up in the same house and the same town, and two of them even went to the same college. In each of their lives, amazing things have happened, but just like Mr. Flanagan said, it has hardly ever been what I was expecting. This unpredictability keeps you humble as a parent; it also keeps you on your knees if you're a praying person. You give life your all and encourage your kids to do the same, then you hold on tight, keep your eyes wide open, and wait to see how it all turns out.