Excerpts from The Rooming House Gallery – Connecting the Dot
Josh gathered his courage and blurted out, “Meg, once you said you didn’t want children, but changed your mind. What happened? How long did it take for you to change?” She looked surprised, then smiled. “I’m sorry,” he added. “I’ve been wanting to talk with you about that a long time. I didn’t mean to change the subject or be intrusive.”
Meg sipped her coffee and stretched her long legs. “Why are you asking? Does one of you not want children? Which one?”
“I’m open to it. In fact, I keep thinking about it more and more. Andres doesn’t. I think…” he paused to gather his thoughts. “I really think Andres is worried that he might parent like his father and grandfather and doesn’t want to put children through the same stuff he experienced.”
“Was he abused?”
“No, not physically or sexually. It was more indifference and lack of connection or full acceptance. His dad believes Andres’ mother trapped him into marriage by getting pregnant. Get this, she was sixteen and he was thirty-two. Anyway, I think that’s his main fear.”
“What does he do? Doesn’t he work with kids a lot?”
“That’s what’s crazy. He teaches high school art half-time and is planning on including kids classes at the art center. He’s incredible with children. There’s just this reluctance…”
……”When I finally got some help, the therapist helped me identify a couple of blockages that occurred through interactions with my parents. It wasn’t physical abuse or necessarily emotional abuse. I was able to recollect several interactions and words from my parents that sank deep into me and made me decide I never wanted kids. Gradually, I came to realize my personality and situation was far different than my parents and that I didn’t have to parent like them.” She waited a few moments before asking, “Do you think Andres would talk with someone about this?”
Josh remained silent, thinking. Finally, he said, “I honestly don’t know. In some ways, he’s very proud and doesn’t like asking for help, yet he has learned to usually trust my opinions and suggestions.” He thought some more. “That has been mostly in the areas of organizing his art business and recordkeeping. I really don’t know if he would consider a counselor. I’ll have to think about it.
Monday, April 4, 2011 (Spring Break)
At nine a.m., Andres went over the expectations and the projects with his volunteers, a mix of high school and college students, along with several board members. He gave them the names and ages of the twenty-one children signed up and mentioned they might have several last minute additions and that Josh would handle those at the front door. At nine-fifty, a sibling group of five arrived, unregistered. By ten-ten, all twenty-one registered children and an additional fifteen were crowded around the tables with more children and parents waiting on the front porch.
“Padre was right!” Josh hurried into the art room and grabbed several pieces of poster board. “Andres, can your volunteers stay for an afternoon class? Say, one to three?”
Andres called out, “Hey, can all you volunteers stay for an afternoon session? Every day this week?”
Most of them hollered yes. One of the board members caught Andres by the arm. “We need more chairs. With eight tables and six to a table we could actually handle forty-eight kids each session. We’ve got enough volunteers for a one to two or three ratio.”
“Yup, great idea! Hey, Josh. Call Padre and tell him the pope wants more chairs over here, like a dozen or more.” Andres rushed toward the living room. He turned and called back, “Call Fly and Nando, too.”
Josh quickly made up a poster board announcing the afternoon session and hung it in the front window. He also revised his enrollment list to forty-eight kids. Damn, that’s a lot of kids to pack in here for five days. On the front porch, he handed out the promotional flyers and tried to explain in Spanish and English that they could take a few more kids in the morning session, and were opening up an afternoon one. The mass of parents and children grew noisier, all crowding around him, trying to get his attention.
Stay tuned for more of Camp Chaos…