Clone Me

April 9, 2019

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Not Purple

A beloved minister and friend used to describe this thing that happens in parenting. He called it The Sweet Spot. There are these moments, usually unexpected, when your child just really needs you. When they are totally open to you helping them and loving them and teaching them. They often happen when you’re busy or in a rush or have somewhere else to be, but he warned parents to recognize these times and whenever they happened, to drop everything to be there and experience these rare moments with your child.

My Sweet Spots with Rahul have often been when we are driving somewhere or walking together. He’ll just drop an amazing question on me or share something so vulnerable or big-hearted. Rahul is a very self-reliant kid, but sometimes we’ll have a Sweet Spot when he has experienced something upsetting and he needs comfort. When he got into a fight in school in 5th Grade he came home and talked about it with me, then just snuggled right into my arms and cried. Some kids do that all the time, but I can count on one hand the number of times he has done that in our 11 years together. All any parent wants to do when their child is hurting or when they’re celebrating is be there for them. To be present and be whatever their child needs in that moment.

Two weeks ago we learned that Rahul’s dream college would be releasing their admissions decisions on Thursday evening at 7pm. Applying to this school was an act of faith on Rahul’s part and in the process of wishing he would be accepted there he learned to hope for it. He hadn’t hoped for something in a long time, and although he knew it was a reach, he proudly shared with anyone who asked him that this school was his first choice.

I absolutely wanted to be there with Rahul when he received this news, because I knew no matter which way it went it would be a huge moment in his life. We had been through the whole college admissions process together and I was hoping too. I had been regularly going to the campus of this school to walk around it and pray about God making it clear where Rahul would thrive at college. And as that Thursday night loomed closer I knew I needed to be with Rahul when he logged into that portal to see the news. I knew it would be a Sweet Spot and I scheduled my whole work day around being home before 7pm.

I have a mobile hairdressing business and that day my work took me all over the city. I was already running behind schedule by the middle of the day, when my appointment was with a client who wanted purple hair. The process of making one’s hair purple is a long, but fairly simple process. First you need to make the hair blonde by bleaching it. Then you apply the purple (or other rainbow unicorn color) to the blonde hair. This client had dark brown hair, so I had scheduled a couple of hours with her to allow time for her dark hair to lighten enough. But when I applied the bleach to her hair something really strange started happening. Part of her hair turned Jolly Green Giant Green. It turns out she had some old hair color in her hair and there are a whole bunch of reasons why it happened and there are one or two solutions I know of to remove this type of color from the hair, but the point is, this was totally unexpected and I had none of those MacGuyver quick fixes with me. So there I was staring at her Four Leaf Clover Green hair while time was ticking away and Rahul’s Sweet Spot was getting closer. I longed for a Renée clone. I didn’t want to leave my client sitting here with Spinach Green hair, but I couldn’t see a way to get home by 7pm. So I texted Rahul and asked him to wait for me to get home before logging on. I had actually set up the login passcode myself, and I laughed as I told him I wasn’t sharing it with him so I could guarantee that I’d be with him for this big moment! Eventually my client and I found a solution (we put blue on top of the Peacock Green, creating a dark teal color that is quite lovely) but by the time I left I was hours behind schedule. I still had one more client to see that night and although I tried to get her to reschedule, she really needed me. And even though everything in me wanted to ditch her and race home to my kid and his big news, I couldn’t abandon her. I couldn’t not do my job. And as time was ticking by I felt like I was in a nightmare where you’re running but not going anywhere. There was no parking in her neighborhood because there was a film shoot going on. (I parked in front of a fire hydrant and prayed my car wouldn’t get towed.) Then, the moment I stepped into her apartment she ran out of it because the heat wasn’t working and she had to go tell the super. So I stood there waiting for her while 7pm came and went. She finally sat down for me to apply her hair color when a neighbor called her asking her to let a city inspector into his apartment next door. (He didn’t have heat either…) When the city inspector arrived I was literally painting haircolor on her hair while she was talking to him. She left to attend to him while her hair color processed and I sat in her apartment as her smoke alarm went off because of the potatoes she was cooking. At this point I would have given anything to have a clone. To be two places at once. To not be a single parent, having to earn all the money to provide for my family, but also be the sole nurturer and caregiver. While the alarm rang over my head I sat down and put my hands over my ears and just stared up at God incredulously. I. Need. A. Clone. Right. Now.

It was 8pm when I walked in the door. “Are you ready????!!!!” I asked Rahul excitedly. “Oh. I already logged on,” he said, as non-chalantly as possible. I couldn’t tell if he was serious or not. “I changed the login password and I already looked at it.” All the blood drained from my face as I realized he was serious. I had missed the moment. I hadn’t been here. He didn’t want to wait for me. I never hated the color green as much as I did in that moment. Cloning humans is not possible yet and therefore people like me–single parents, overworked business owners, busy New Yorkers–can’t be two places at once. So we miss things. We miss dance recitals or we have to turn down big clients or we are staring at Oscar The Grouch Green hair while our son learns he was not accepted to the college of his dreams. When he was so overcome with disappointment and had to experience it alone while you are parking your car in front of a fire hydrant and praying that the drug dealers on the corner will scare away the traffic cops for an hour so you don’t get a $125 ticket. When his heart broke while you were a few miles away stopping your ears and praying for a clone.

I looked at the letter he received and was filled with sadness. Hope deferred makes the heart sick. The night before I had told Rahul that no matter what news we heard he needed to know that he is a very special student. His mind is incredible and his resilience is unbelievable. And if a school doesn’t value those things over all else, it’s not the right school for him. So after 20 minutes of feeling sad, I was totally fine. I knew that God had a better situation for him, where he would truly thrive, and I haven’t felt badly about it since. And a few hours later, we had our Sweet Spot. Rahul knocked on my door and wanted to talk. We sat together while he told me how disappointed he was, but how proud he was of himself for hoping for something. I jumped on his bed when I realized that this decision meant he would be living at home with me for a few more years (the dream college is the only one he applied to where he would need to live on campus). We talked for hours and prayed and I accepted that maybe all the events of the day had played out exactly as they needed to. I couldn’t be in two places at once, but in the end I was right where he needed me to be.

 

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4 Responses to “Clone Me”

  1. Juliet Pritner said

    Hello Renee, I’m sorry to hear if Rahul’s disappoint, yet I also trust that he is where he belongs. It’s so hard to see our children hurting. And he knows that you are always present, even when you aren’t “present.” Peace to you both, Juliet

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    Like

  2. Jose Rivera said

    Hi Renée
    Thank you for sharing your sweet spot moment. If he can hack your password so easily that’s not the college for him. 😁
    Enjoy your time with Rahul

    Like

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