God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Friday, March 05, 2010

QUESTIONS IN LOOKS

Thanks to Casey today was an exciting day; by special invitation I attended the sixth grade Honor Roll Assembly! Son Casey was one of  many ambitious students recognized for having earned excellent grades for the first semester of the first year in middle school. I am a proud mom. He is definitely off to a very good start in the challenge of preparing for college and adulthood.

Saying this seems so strange, as when I was his age and in sixth grade, we certainly were not thinking of college acceptance and competitive pressures. Life was much easier a hundred years ago--wasn't it?

I also realize that I have neglected to write about the rather consequential, life changing event that took place  in our lives a few weeks ago. Casey  became his uncle! Strange events do happen, don't they? After having been guardians of Casey for many years, we finally were able to adopt him and become his recognized parents. This is something he had asked for and we wanted but until a recent California Supreme Court ruling impacting our situation, it wasn't in the cards. Now we are a family unit, confident in the future ahead of us.

Which leads to today's look in question--one that I must and will get used to without feeling an explanation is required. Admittedly, I look a little older than the other mothers--even if women are waiting until later in life to have children and even if I did have my makeup on. I'm much later. And so the woman sitting next to me, with whom I had struck up a casual conversation as we waited for the children, asked if I had a child being honored. I said "yes, my son." As I said this, her face spontaneously registered a look of confusion and surprise as she tried to reconcile conflicting input. My first reaction was to explain to this stranger that he had been my grandson, was still my grandson, but was also my son. Then, I caught myself and realized that sorting it out for her was not necessary. This was a crossroads moment for me and from now on quizzical looks won't matter.

I learned this lesson many years ago in a different context and in a different time when we adopted two African-American children. As is apparent in our pictures, Ken and I are not African-American but quite European-Caucasian. When we went out, people looked or even, one might say, gawked at us. We were an anomaly-often one that was not liked. Although, to be fair, sometimes the looks were purely ones of surprise rather than judgment.  Even today I am sure these looks continue for mixed-race families; in the late sixties/early seventies, they were a given. It was not unknown to have the "looks" accompanied by comments and loud whispers.

Eventually these experiences became so mundane and so a part of our lives that we neglected to notice them. It was only when I would think about it and check to see if they were still happening that I knew they were. By then, it was not our problem but the looker's. Even today if I am out with an adult child and am called "mom," necks swivel but I think as often now in surprise as in condemnation. Times have changed--a little.

So, I am relearning the lesson I learned so many years ago--let people handle their own curiosities. It is not my responsibility or need to speak to them. Isn't it strange how life moves in circles and what we learn at one point prepares us for new times and experiences? I love it and I love my new son--very much. Casey Alex, you are special!

11 comments:

barb cabot said...

Jane as always I am so happy for you and Casey. He is getting such a solid foundation, academic and otherwise. So wonderful that he is doing so well in school but I could hardly imagine otherwise. I note in the first photo how tall your son is getting. Soon you will be looking up to him. Happy nice times. Enjoy your son.

Melissa Keith said...

Wow! What great news! I am so happy for you all. What a wonderful moment it must have been when it became official. Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

Jane, I am someone you don't know, but have been a regular reader of your blog for a few years. I just was so thrilled to read this post and learn that Casey is officially your son, and you and Ken are officially his mom and dad.

How absolutely wonderful!

And, by the way, both of the pictures are great, and I particularly think the one of you and Casey is fabulous!

Donna in SF

Jane said...

Donna, what fun to hear from you! I often wonder just who is reading the blog besides family and a few friends. How interesting that you have been following for a while. I am so curious as to why--another Italy lover? another strange breed of evangelical Christian/staunch democrat? another raiser of a grandchild?

Thank you so much for caring about Casey and our family. Your kind words and thoughts touch me. And...I like that picture, too. The best in years!

Denise said...

Dear Jane, Ken and Casey Alex,

Congratulations to all! To Casey for his outstanding work in school and for his recent adoption. To you and Ken for raising such an amazing young man and for becoming his "official" parents. And finally, to you Jane for recognizing that looks don't matter, it's what's in the heart that does.

Congratulations, again to the happy family!

Denise

Judith in Umbria said...

Say you're his father. No one questions the ability of older men to become parents, and these days a mom can become a dad and vice versa. Confusion can be fun!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jane, well, to answer your questions about why I read your blog, I plead guilty to lover of Italy, and to being a staunch Democrat. I am also a lover of France - I would have a hard time picking my favorite between those two, but have spent most of my travels in France.

I found you originally through Slow Travel, a website I found about 6 years ago, and which has been very helpful to me in travel research and just in learning about smart ways to go about it.

I don't have kids, let alone grandkids, and maybe because of that, I just vicariously enjoy the wonderful life you have made with yours. I think it's so terrific that you have exposed Casey, in such a natural way - I mean not the grand hotel route, just living life - to other cultures, food, etc. He's got a real head start in life because of you and Ken.

See, I wasn't kidding, I've been reading you for a while now!

Have a great time at the San Diego March gathering!

Donna in SF

Jane said...

Ciao Donna
Thank you for liking us! And....can I twist your arm into coming down here next weekend for the big GTG. There are others coming from the Bay Area and I know you would enjoy it.

BTW--what is your name on ST?

Anonymous said...

Hi Jane
Thanks so much for the invite to come to San Diego. I would love to, but unfortunately I have other commitments and won't be able to make it. Hopefully, another time.

My name on ST is MVhome. I haven't been too active on the forums of late, but I will be sure to read all the reports of your SD get together!

Ciao, Donna in SF

Anne said...

I knew your exciting news from Facebook, but just wanted to say how wonderful it is that you and Ken and Casey now have this new relationship with each other. What an amazing blessing! My heartfelt prayers to you all in this joyous time of celebration!!

nancyhol said...

I know I am really late in saying this, but I am SO happy for all of you now that Casey is officially your son.