Pushing An Analogy

Parenting is terrifying.  It is a never ending rollercoaster of dips and turns, deep dives and steep climbs.  There are moments full of silence so loud that the click-clack-click of movement is all you can hear and then there are moments where the screams fill up the atmosphere, choking out usable oxygen.  And just when you get back to the beginning of the ride, the place where you can breathe and loosen your grip, the car speeds up again or, in some cases, lurches into reverse.  Parenting is terrifying.

I work with adolescents; 8th graders, to be exact.  They are full of sharp angles and unpredictability, surprising themselves, and me, with their unique insights and revelations about the world around them.  And they are complicated.  In one classroom, I have a student who watched a sibling die at the hands of the police, another whose parents split their time between Egypt and the U.S., sometimes taking one or all of the children and sometimes leaving them behind for months at a time.  In here are students with IEPs and students with 504 plans; students who play with LEGO and students who vape and have sex.  I have a student who barely speaks above a whisper but who writes beautifully, pushing words together on the page in ways I have never seen.  All of them tentatively own their own space, large or small, from behind their masks…and for now, those masks are real and tangible.  

My students’ pain is real and I can confront it confidently for the few hours that they are with me each week.  I may be helping –and I am fairly certain that I am not hurting– but in the end, it does not draw me in fully and completely.  It used to, in a time before I had my own children and before I was even married.  Kids filled up the space in my heart and my connection with some of them lasted long into their high school and adult years.  But I did not ride their roller coaster.  I did not then and I do not now.  I didn’t even know that ride existed until I had my own kids and, more specifically, my own teenager.  

But the thing with the roller coaster analogy is that it is flawed:  the roller coaster stays on the tracks, the riders stay safely in their seats and when the ride ends, the joy is inextricably connected to the fear.  The truth is that I don’t know if my kid will stay on the tracks, safely belted in beneath the safety bar, confidently looking back on the ride once his feet return to the security of the ground.  I want to believe with all the air in my lungs that ultimately the joy will outlast the fear, but I have seen too many of my students’ roller coasters derail to pretend that isn’t a possibility.  So, for now, we will provide as many safety measures as we can and hope that the ride eventually slows down enough for us to enjoy it.

8 thoughts on “Pushing An Analogy

  1. I’ve started to comment at least three times already but am struggling to find the words. Your writing is beautiful, yes, but this piece is so much more than simply beautifully written. It’s filled with love, compassion, and fear. Whoever said that parenting is sending your heart out into the world had it right. I’m sending all my wishes for a slow down of the ride for everyone concerned.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Dearest amyilene:

    Number 1 – when are you writing your book! (And yes, I know that’s a question with an exclamation point. Point and pun intended)!

    Number 2 – #gasp… Reading this post made my heart feel like it was on a roller coaster of emotions and epiphanies in a twisted, yet very real landscape of life. I was as frightened as I was enlightened – because you crafted the most beautiful journey for me to follow with your words…

    Number 3 – I found your writing to be so prolific and profound that somewhere shortly after the beginning, I imagined it not as a blog post on my screen, but with you in the center of a stage; in an enormous arena of sorts. I could feel the silence of the room and the intensity of the processing by an audience that included me as we dissected and attempted to come to grips with the immense truths sewn into every word.

    Though I’ve never heard you speak, I could so clearly hear your voice! I wanted to slow my reading because your sentiments and conclusions were resonating with me more quickly than I could fully digest them.

    This I know. Your gift is most laudable. Your vulnerability is refreshing. You are a core-challenging thinker whose sincerity and simplicity are rivaled only by the power of your perception.

    I don’t know what your end goals are, but I certainly hope they include a published book and/or public speaking.

    You are a gem of a writer indeed. In a word? #wow

    I shall certainly ride this roller coaster again.

    With Warmest Regards,

    ~Dr. Carla Michelle Brown

    Liked by 1 person

      1. amyilene,

        It is an honor to have had the privilege to read your writing! I enjoyed it more than you know. #whatatalent! May there be much more writing in your future! ~Dr. Carla Michelle Brown

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t know who originally said it, but parenting is like living with your heart permanently living outside of your body. There is truly nothing else in the world that feels as scary and wonderful as parenting.

    Liked by 1 person

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