Thursday, November 16, 2006

Late again

From the beginning, I was labelled a late starter. I remained alto, for instance, long after classmates deepened to bass, and well-meaning souls said, 'Perfectly natural. You're a late starter.'

Subsequently late starting with singlehanding, circumnavigating, writing, university, Shakespeare, computering, databasing, coding and web development, then counselling. However, witnessing the torment of sad devils and the struggle with temporary emasculation, Deo gracias to be a late starter while enduring the state's fantasy of criminality.

Despite the late starting, I had married young, but that had been the trend. Of course, I was much too young, still young enough to think I knew it all –such as of fatherhood which I presumed was no more than something that happened, like pain, like sacrifice.

Then a late lamb proved my views were a late starter's and something went click in middle-aged me. I began to suffer those tragic syndromes that were a mystery in friends. Worrying about everything on the child's behalf. And I learned the other side, too. The enormous pleasure of a child's company. I enjoyed explaining, loved the unending 'Why, Daddy?', the zillion imaginative reasons for not going to bed on time. I pressed for a good toddlers' education, to'd and fro'd her to school. I did it and I loved it.

Then late starting returned. The gates slammed shut on freedom - suddenly and without warning. When the prosecution perfected their inventions, the judge declared, 'Nineteen years.' In the family home, an adult put in place a permanent blocking of my calls and a deaf ear to my letters. It was like learning about bereavement as a late starter.

At first, the state would not support that real punishment. I pondered upon school reports and photos. They even ruled it my right. But this school year, as I learned this week (late again), the right is withdrawn. The child at 16 must agree to forwarding of any information. Which would require her to defy home rule.

Lately, the state is lessening their punishment. They call it resettlement, slow adjustment to life on rationed incursions 'out there.' The stolen years are behind me. And they say, 'The sentence is just about over. Less than a year.' I explain delayed smiles with, 'I'm a late starter' and don't mention the late start of the toughest punishment.