My Son the Outsider

There is no glory being buried inside a culture not of your own making
When the past eclipses the present there is only one recipe for the baking
There are no chairs at the table if you do not build upon their legacy
Instead they will expect you to facilitate their segregated destiny
No man is more dangerous to your soul than one who is sure his is saved
And in his righteousness, humility instead of pride is what he will waive
He takes his place before God and before man during his time
For his rights swell from the assumed power at the head of the line
The advantage of birth is never recognized by a baby swaddled in royal cloth
While the boy who only has love from his parent sees his blanket eaten by a moth
There can be no loyalty or honor in another’s prideful accomplishments
It’s too much to ask of a young boy who has substituted cynicism for innocence
Waiting to find yourself can kill even the strongest of developing minds
Who holds his hand in his journey, away from the crowd and his own kind?
I tried to tell him that a Father’s love can be his strength for my belief is all his
For I know what can be done with your own thoughts and rejection of the mob’s kiss
There is no pain greater than watching your child as the one who is neither lost or found
For you sense a powerful presence enveloped in the sadness that has run him aground
He is already an observer of the cultural ruins and has aged fifty years in two
I admire what he knows but tremble for he has become me and not the boy I knew
It is too early to abandon homecoming and school pride but he wants none of this
Glory days have not arrived and he is unable to see that youth is not all there is
Together we will walk away from the scraps that popular society have left on the floor
And we will laugh as behind us our independence will forever close the door

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Comments 11 comments

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

Oh my, Mark. It describes all too well what a young man can feel as his idealism is crushed by experience with teachers who seem oblivious to his being, politicians and various authorities with shabby principles, - even personal loved ones who betray him in some measure or another. I saw it happen to my son and it took a terrible toll in ways that still impact him, though he's successful in most ways the world sees. What was crushed in him has not healed, apparently. He's a rigid outsider to his own deepest connections and fullest trust and has them locked away in an inner vault.


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 4 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

Hi Nellieanna... we haven't talked in a while. I have some concerns about my son for sure. He and I are very close but he is having troubles in a school dominated by rich kids and the football ethic. Plus his mother is.... ah... well let's just say I think she is too tough. I hope he can hang in there. He told me tonight he felt sad. He is a sensitive boy (15 years old). I don't know what to do except continue to give him my love and support. I have some decision to make I think on how to be more involved. But thank you for reading this and your sincere comments.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

Oh boy. 15 is tough for any kid. Isn't this the boy you once wrote about having bullying problems from other kids? How did that work out, or did it grow into the present situation?

Your involvement would be very important, and giving him your love in ways he fully understands is major, too. But other kids and his relationship with them are his problem. If he's seen as or if he feels he is unable to handle it himself, that could make it harder for him. Not easy to instill that sense of confidence with so much pounding him every day at school. But anything you can do to encourage his sense of self and of his own power will help. Maybe he has other skills than football he could compete and excel at something else, perhaps.

I am fully aware of what a rabid football-oriented town Austin is! George's little great grandson, Logan, who just turned 11, has become very good at baseball and loves it. He's also been enunciated by both parents (his mother is George's granddaughter, Alison) with everything UT! His room, even his bathroom, - all decorated with orange and white and every sort of Longhorns item. His dad, Rance, is a real macho type (they're are divorced but live in close proximity in Pflugerville, & Logan spends equal time with them.) For Logan's 10th birthday his dad gave him a rifle and took him hunting. Now he's pressing for the boy to get into football. Logan's a fan & likes watching football but he's not built for playing it. Alison doesn't want him to get into football, necessarily, but they're all such huge football fans that she'd relent, probably.

He's a sensitive kid, too. Rance is adamant that he should have no interest in music, especially playing it. "No son of mine is going to play music!!" -stated at Logan's 2nd birthday party when we gave him something musical.

Pflugerville's Alison's mother's home town and Rance's family's hometown. Alison's mother is of German stock and Rance's family are simply rednecks. They're close family and compete for their first and only grandson's love, but seem unable to perceive who he IS. They bury him in gifts, but even as a little toddler, when he wanted to linger over each thing and study it, it would be quickly snatched away and something else thrust into his hands. At one point he just got up from the Christmas tree area and went to his room.

Both families prefer heavy, unhealthy foods. All his life, Logan often just won't eat! Period. At one birthday party at some local party-place like a Los Vegas casino for kids, including lunch for all the party, hissed who was paying for it, boasted that his son "isn't going to eat any sissy food"! Logan just poked around at his plate. It's as if it is his one action that he can fully control. I just pray that he will be able to hang on to his own personality, but who knows.

All that said, I'm wondering if perhaps putting your son in a different school - even a private school - might help him. It's not all that fun to be "the new kid" but it might give him a chance to establish himself afresh.

When I was 15, we'd recently moved to San Angelo, & I was still not fully into the new surroundings, plus changes in my family (all the older siblings had left home) were distressing. My peanuts were older, anyways and had to commute back and forth about 250 miles to the ranch frequently all during the school year so that I had to be farmed out to friends and neighbors in their absence. It became clear that it wasn't a very good influence on me, especially when I stayed with the folks across the street whose daughter my age was 'on the wild side'. So my parents decided to enroll me into the academy at Abilene Christian College, just 100 miles from San Angelo. I started in summer school, taking piano. My senior year in HS started in the fall, and I continued on through graduation, staying for the next summer semester taking piano again and starting college the next fall. I never really lived at home again, in fact. I transferred to SMU for my junior year and graduated from there. I was an oddball there, but my sister tried to 'groom' me for the social life! haha - I didn't drive, didn't drink, didn't smoke, didn't dance (till I took a few Arthur Murray lessons) - and didn't play bridge. I barely fit in to the sorority she got me into. But it was OK.

I can't say everything about this history of coming of age in less-than-perfect conditions was ideal, but it resolved my feeling like an isolated outsider at San Angelo High School, and the issues with friends and negative influences at a very vulnerable age, and equipped me to find my own way better in various situations.

I only mention these other examples as food for thought for a very caring father looking for solutions to difficult problems for his young son. They're far from identical, but include issues of sensitive boys, kids 15, divorced parents with different perspectives & tough decisions for parents having to try to resolve some of the issues involved, and even how parental involvement can squelch kids' own initiative.

No perfect resolution is possible, Mark, but there are progressive steps for YOUR situation which you'll discover and implement. The bottom line value is that your boy does hang in there & does rise from the distractors and negatives, with his own feet firmly planted with his own sense of power over external stuff. Perhaps substituting a different school environment might help. Of course, the present semester has begun, but since it's at a school where he's being harassed by the students, well - it might not be too late to consider a transfer?


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

Grrrr - my computer's spell check is so quick on the draw. I was writing inundated up there but must have typoed an 'e' so it changed it into "enunciated" - a totally other meaning! grrrr - happens all too often! There may be others in that comment! Dumb old 'puter pays no attention to meanings! hehe

Ack - here's one: " hissed who was paying for it" was supposed to be " his dad, who was paying for it"


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

I should have edited!! Wish I could start over! "My peanuts were older" was to have been "My parents were older " ack!

I'm not looking further - don't want to find any more of these absurd things! hahahah!


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

PS - I know this is much too long for the comment thread. I won't be offended if you read it and delete it, Mark - or move it offline. I just care and am concerned.


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 4 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

Don't worry Nellieanna, you could never offend me. I am grateful that you would take the time to consider my situation and offer your perspective. I read through it and one thing that struck me was the comment, "No son of mine...." It doesn't even matter what follows those four words. It is a controlling comment and very unfortunate. I want nothing for my son except honesty and to give a good account of himself for things that are worthwhile and necessary in this life. He is not bullied anymore mainly because he is in a very strict private school so I'm grateful for that. But he is surrounded by the football ethic as I mentioned and if you are not part of that team and you are in a small school as he is then you are just one of the fringe students. That is what is weighing on this mind. He literally told me he hoped the team loses because they need to be put into their place.


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 4 years ago from Templeton, CA

I felt very much like an outside through most of junior high and high school. I was fortunate in that I was in a large public high school and our Latin teacher saw that many of us were out of our element socially, since we weren't in the "in" group. She started a Latin club for us and she especially wanted to include not only me and my brainy friends, but also those who had never wanted to take Latin and were flunking it. (They had been put in the class by counselors who had nowhere else to put them.) I was even able to bring my neighbor, another social orphan, along to the activities so she would also have a group to belong to.

It's very lonely not to have a sense of community within a larger group where you don't fit. Some of us are late bloomers or are too much individuals to be part of a clique. In my school, many headed for college were the ones who did not fit. My other friends (from church) were also loners. We weren't part of the church clique, so we did things together as individuals. In effect I had two "groups" -- those three girls from church and the Latin club at school. That was enough to give me a social life. My best friend was in band, and I never joined the high school band, so at school we were leading separate lives in separate groups. My other Latin club buddies were male, and they all had sports teams.

I'm guessing your son is too much an individual to do "anything it takes" to be accepted by a group of peers. Help him develop his own interests and he will shine in college, if not before. Today it's also possible to make friends online with those who share common interests -- an opportunity not available to my generation. You might encourage him in that, as well as to offer him lots of support at home.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

Thank you, my friend.

Yes, exactly my point about that horrid phrase, "No son of mine. . . ." It IS controlling and shows total oblivion to the boy's or young man's own nature and true inner direction. It is a landmark of domineering fathers. One can only pity and pray for the son to which it refers. Knowing Logan and the boy's specialness, which I perceived from the time he was a little baby, this is quite disturbing. But George and I were never in the forefront of his life and training, and with George gone now, and my being only a step-great-grandparent, I have less now.

When either both of us or only I've been there, though, I know I've related to him and even calmed him when he was acting up. So who knows. . .

You're such a good Dad! It's so right to simply want honesty and ability to give a good account of himself for important things for your son. He sounds like he has all the makings of fulfilling that. It's a shame that the immediate challenge is football wielding such a powerful influence, even in a private school environment. That sounds wrong to me. But it's how it is.

Perhaps you could help him see the comedic absurdity of it, even converting his hoping they lose to a comedic conclusion. Whatever it takes to help him see them as less powerful and himself on equal footing;- you know, like imagining the big wigs in their underwear or sleeping with their teddy bears - stuff like that - to guide him to laughing at them rather than feeling their derision for himself.

You wouldn't want his animosity toward them to grow into obsession. Helping him see that they're not even worth his anger could take the edge & spotlight off them, taking himself from the shadowy fringes and reverse his subconscious mental image, perhaps. There's much to be said for self-talk in changing how we see our position in the external environment.

In other words, by putting them in their place through funny humor, (not vicious humor) rather than by wishing them brought down by failure would empower him.

He might even become a fan, to put himself on the same level as them, sharing in their wins, which could balance the sense of power for him. To them , they may or may not even be aware of any of it, but it does matter greatly to him how he sees his position in relation to theirs.

Does the school have a sports cheering squad? He might even join that if so. Whatever, just so the distance in effectiveness between the football guys and himself is minimized in his mind. In reality he has no real need to compete, but if he FEELS helpless against them even though he shouldn't, realizing he need not feel any of that is in his best interest. Just a few things could turn it around for him.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

BTW - I very much agree with WannaB Writer's advice. Finding a compatible group - or organizing one - gives a kid who is different from the 'in' crowd his or her own 'place'. Doing what he really excels in with a group of compatible peers is an excellent alliterative to being in the football ethic, even though I am very aware of the overwhelming nature of that ethic in the city in which you live, Mark. It's hard to fathom how powerful it is unless one has experienced it. But the fact is, it is NOT the be-all of the universe! Other interests and talents are as big or bigger, in fact. Your experience is so meaningful, WannaB.

I wasn't an 'insider' either. i was in a selected singing group in Junior High, but my singing ability was short-lived when my soprano deepened; who wanted an alto? Piano was a minor talent, as well. haha - But writing, sewing and design were where I 'found myself' and my real capability. Those weren't competitive but I wasn't of a competitive nature, nor especially needful of group acceptance. I simply needed to know that I was actually OK and able to DO something of value. Being a fairly self-confident loner is not all that bad. ;-) It can even be the foundation of a rather important self-reliance.


Joanie 4 years ago

Teenagers all have angst! In my private school, you had to play football unless you had a doctors excuse. A couple of nerdy boys did and were on the golf team and bird watching - yes! These boys grew up to be successful men!

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