So many are the novels, plays and movies portraying the contradictory, the grim, the disgusting elements in human affairs. I find I'm moved more deeply by stories where human beings act nobly in circumstances where we expect their good instincts to waver.
Watching Kramer vs. Kramer on an airplane trip to Copenhagen, I once showered a stoic Scandinavian seat mate with my tears. Sorry, Joakim, but my God: Dustin Hoffman's son is being unfairly ripped away from him throughout the course of the film and at no time during the two hours does he give into the temptation to cry out to the boy: I'm the one who really loves you!
I'm also routinely moved by stories where parents of gay kids managed to communicate acceptance, thereby allowing the child to proceed through life (which is hard enough when you're whole).
And of course being a parent—or a close uncle or an aunt—is not just an eggshell-walking attempt to avoid common but colossal screw-ups.
It's also a matter of piling on good red meat: When I think of my good parents, I think of my father taking me, just me, on long car rides and talking to me like a grownup. I think of my mother reading me the entire The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, cover to cover. I think of my dad spraying me with the garden hose and then spiriting me upstairs for a change of clothes. I think of my mother sitting by the driveway all afternoon on my sixth birthday when I rode my new bike in 500 clockwise circles.
Of course my parents screwed up too, but they gave infinite small gifts and a number of heroic big ones.
It has occurred to me that one might—and as the son of the man who wrote a book called A Child to Change Your Life, why not me?—compile a good book on parenting*: just a collection of true stories from grown-up kids who remember great mistakes their parents avoided, and good things their parents did that they didn't have to do.
But I need some examples to prime the pump—to let others know what kinds of stories I'm looking for. Boots readers, you understand me, you understand communication and it occurs to me you understand love pretty well too.
So if you agree this is a worthy idea for a book, I hope you'll lend the first anecdotes that I might use to draw others out.
* I can't utter the word "parenting" without relating what my late great pal Eddie Reardon told me just before Scout was born as I fretted about how I would "parent" her: "Parenting? There's no such thing as parenting. What your kid gets is you, for 18 years. If you're good, that's good. If you're bad, that's bad."