Tuesday, October 5, 2010

God Only Gave Me One

...That's what I always say.  I find myself feeling it is necessary to explain why I have only one child.  I love big families.  I think it is generally a kind of child abuse to have only one; no built in playmates or partners in crime, no one to boss around or to be bossed by,  no special friend to talk with after lights out, no one to poke on long car rides, no one to blame for something you did,  and no first cousins for your kids when you have your own.

There are upsides.  Today was one of them.  My son has earned money this summer by taking care of our neighbor's lawn while they were gone.  Today I took him to the bank to open his own account.  After the transaction was completed, my son shook the hand of the banker and said thank you.  We then went to a restaurant for lunch, followed by a trip to the Durham Western Heritage Museum, which is at the site of the former Union Station for Union Pacific in Omaha.

The bankers were doting and congratulatory.  They made my son feel that his deposit was a rite of passage.  They treated him with respect and deference.  It was a lovely experience.

The waitress at the Bohemian Cafe we went to said that she was happy to see my son there.  He told her it was some of the best food he'd ever had.  She said she was glad he was there, because without young people coming to the restaurant, it would not continue into the next generation.  (This is an older restaurant that serves Czechoslovakian food.  My husband and I had our pre-nuptial dinner there.)

Finally, as we walked through the old train cars at the museum, we came to an older man sitting in a 1950's era club car.  We sat down with him.  He told stories of the 50's and 60's and train travel.  He is a retired train engineer.  He told us how the college students could buy cheap tickets home for the holidays that didn't guarantee a seat, but gave access to the club car for a trip of 350 miles or less.  He said the  students would pull out instruments and play music, or read from books, and no one slept in the club car.

He told us about a trip we could take in a classic steam train from Durango, Colorado, to another town nearby through land without roads.  It was so glorious in his description.  He even told us not to wear anything but dark clothes, because the steam and smoke from the train would destroy anything white or light colored.

As his tales went on we were transported to another era, where speed and economy were replaced by the joy of the time taken.  We've been talking about this kind man since.  The whole day has been beautiful.

My Father is an only child.  I get the feeling he did not enjoy it.  He was sent to boarding schools at age 14, then to college where he finished in 3 years.  At that time, finishing early meant you were not awarded a diploma.  He went on to medical school, and has been a successful physician, but his main pride and joy has been in his children.

These are very different experiences, my son's and my father's.  Sometimes my husband talks about sending our son to boarding school.  Given my father's experience, I think the best we can do is to try to fulfill the roles of parents, siblings, disciplinarians, teachers, and friends for our son as long as possible. 

And may God bless all of those who were so kind to us today.  I feel far less guilty about having an only child because of you.  Today, I know, that children need parents as much as siblings.  And both are good.
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