So, as some of you know, Doran enlisted in the Marines. He left for boot camp a week and a half ago. It's not what I would have chosen for him, but I am very clear that it's not my role to choose. He's an adult and needs to make adult decisions. I'm working hard on finding the value that he sees in this choice. I'm also, of course, frightened for his safety.
Mostly, though, I'm just missing him so much. He's a great kid (yes, I know I just called him an adult, but at 18, they're both) - loving, thoughtful, intelligent, fun. We've always been very close. He wasn't one of those kids who withdrew at adolescence and, in fact, really craved and demanded one-on-one time with me. And at 18 he still walks down the street with his arm around my shoulders and says "I love you" to me in front of his friends. I'm accustomed to spending a lot of time with him, to talking to him during the day even when I'm at work. It's very hard to not only not see him (which would have happened if he were at college, too) but not be able to talk to him, either. It's making me think back on his childhood. An old story, for those who haven't known me so long (or those who'd like to hear it again :-)):
Doran was 2.5 years old when Thurgood Marshall retired from the Supreme Court. Stacy and I had both been big fans of Marshall since childhood (ours, not his) and paid close attention to the news accounts of his retirement with their bios and summaries of his career. So, Doran was hearing the name "Thurgood Marshall" bandied about a lot and asked "Who's Furgood Marshall?" (Doran could not say 'th' until he was around 6 and subsitituted either f or h, depending on the word).
Stacy, who was home alone with him at the time, worked to explain this in age-appropriate fashion saying that he was a Supreme Court Justice, which is a kind of a judge, which is someone whose "job it is to decide what's right and wrong under the law". That seemed to mean something to Doran, although not quite what it meant to us (and, I presume, not what it meant to Thurgood Marshall).
Doran took this in and invented a game. If I were going to market it (not that I think there's a market for it) I would call it "Furgood Marshall: the Game of Right and Wrong". Here's how it went:
Doran: Let's play Furgood Marshall.
Doran: You be Furgood Marshall.
Doran: Furgood Marshall, should I clean up my room?
Me: Yes, Doran, you should clean up your room.
Doran: Furgood Marshall, should I be rude to people?
Me: No, Doran, you should not be rude to people.
Doran: Furgood Marshall, should I share my toys?
Me: Yes, Doran, you should share your toys.
And so on. We had to play Furgood Marshall many times a day for several weeks, but then it faded into the background.
We had not played Furgood Marshall for a long time when, months later, the Supreme Court again became subject of discussion in our family. Clarence Thomas had been nominated to fill Marshall's seat and Anita Hill had come forth with accusations of sexual harassment and there were hearings and we were watching them with horrified fascination. Of course Doran wanted to know what was going on. How to explain this whole mess to a child now two weeks short of his third birthday? Well, we ended up telling him that a man named Clarence Thomas might get Thurgood Marshall's old job but that he had "said mean things" to a woman named Anita Hill and those people on TV were talking about whether or not he should have the job. Doran seemed satisfied with this explanation and never asked how the whole thing came out and we didn't say any more about it.
Fast forward several weeks and we are in a car on vacation with the radio on. It happens to be the day of Clarence Thomas's swearing in as Supreme Court Justice and NPR is covering it. "Clarence Thomas!" said Doran. "They said 'Clarence Thomas'. Why did they say 'Clarence Thomas'?
Me: Do you remember who he is?
Doran: He wants to be Furgood Marshall.
Me: He's never going to be Furgood, er, Thurgood Marshall, but he wants Thurgood Marshall's job. And you know what? He got it. Today is his first day in that job and that's what they are talking about.
Doran: (indignantly) But Mommy! He said mean 'hings to a woman!
Me: (resignedly) Yes, I know. And I didn't want him to get that job. But I didn't make the decision and he's got it.
Doran: (patting my arm) Oh, don't worry, Mommy. It will be okay.
So we go back to listening to the radio. Thomas's speech that day was very upbeat and rather conciliatory, in sharp contrast to his truculent demeanor during the hearings. The NPR newsreader commented on this, saying "It was a different Clarence Thomas we heard today".
Doran's face positively lit up and he said "See, Mommy, I told you it would be okay. It's a different Clarence Thomas. It's not the one who said mean 'hings to a woman." I didn't have the heart to tell him they didn't mean it literally.