Saturday, November 29, 2008

Trial by Football

I'm in Las Vegas for six days, hanging out with my son Ceilee and his family and friends. The four days of the Thanksgiving weekend will be about as different from my homesteading life in rural northeast Missouri as it can get.

While we try to emphasize self-sufficiency and sustainability at Sandhill Farm, I think the main thing that sustains Vegas is an overweaning passion for the consumptive life. I guess you could say that Sandhill and Vegas both succeed pretty well at promoting a lifestyle based on core values—they're just very different values.

And yet, my son and his wife Tosca are happy here. He has a job as an account manager for Cricket, a national phone company. He likes technology and he likes management. While I'm neutral about technology, I certainly depend on it (I can't even imagine my current life without a laptop) and I'm fond of management also. Where I work the nonprofit side of the street, Ceilee's riding the coporate elevator.

The thing I keep foremost in mind when visiting Ceilee is that I'm visiting my son and his family, with whom I am highly desirous of an ongoing and affectionate relationship. While he's developed some values that are rather different than mine, I am determined to not recapitulate the tense relationship I had with my father when, as a young adult, I veered sharply to the left of the conservative values he attempted to instill in me growing up (in the Republican suburbs of Chicago).

I love my son, and I accept that he has every right to make up his own mind about the lifestyle and politics that suit him best. These were the same rights I tried so desperately to get my father to recognize should be mine 40 years ago, and the principle is no less valid today, even though I'm now the dad.

So, when I'm in Vegas I'm Ceilee's guest, and we do Vegas things. At Sandhill we don't own a TV. By the time the Bears & Vikings conclude their Sunday night game in Minneapolis (two nights from now) I will probably have watched a dozen football games in about 84 hours. As we're both sports fans, I simply enjoy the opportunity. We laugh, drink, eat, and I find out how he's doing—roughly in that order. I take turns holding Taivyn, his seven-month-old daughter (and my first grandchild), do some dishes, and help cook and clean.
Before I leave town early Wed, I'll also find time to change out all the electrical outlets in his kitchen (back home in Missouri I'm the community electrician, and it turns out that some homesteading skills are just as handy in the city as they are on the farm).

Today we played golf, as part of a foursome that included a couple of Ceilee's local friends (both of whom work for Patron, the high-end tequila manufacturer, with corporate headquarters here). While golf was a sport I essentially left behind as a teenager, I still play every now and then when Ceilee invites me. While I shake my head at all the water that's devoted to keeping the fairways green in this desert environment, I enjoy having my son give me pointers on the best way to hit a sand wedge.

What it distills to is that s
pending time with my kids is precious to me. When I visit them I try to fit into their life, rather than asking them to adapt to me. And besides, the lifetsyle I embrace in Vegas, stays in Vegas. It's only the relationships that need to transcend geography and politics. I don't ever need to hit another golf ball, place another bet at a casino, or even see another football game on TVbut I do need a loving realtionship with my son. Luckily, I have one.

1 comment:

Justin Moore said...

This brought tears to my eyes. It gave me appreciation for how my Dad responds to the differences among his children, and it gave me a sense of future reminiscence about how I might feel about my own children someday.