My parents took me to see a rabbi, despite the fact we were not Jewish. They felt he could help with my outbreak of rebelliousness. I had been running away. Dating an eighteen-year-old as a thirteen-year-old. Skipping school.
I expected a lecture. I sank into a chair in front of his enormous desk. I looked around the room and saw turtles everywhere. Pictures of turtles. Glass turtles. Miniatures you could pick up. I asked if I could pick up one of the many that lined his desk. He said yes and I fiddled with it.
Instead of telling me everything that was wrong with me, he started to explain that he knew my parents were mentally ill. He explained how he understood what kind of pressure that puts on the oldest child in a family. He asked me if I had to be the parent to my little brothers and sister a lot of the time? I started bawling.
He was as wise as he looked. He had a long white beard which flowed from his mostly white hair. He had glasses perched on his proud nose. He wore a woolen vest over a cotton cardigan.
He ended his session with me with a squeeze around my shoulders, and the following words:
Some people make it because of their parents. Some people make it despite their parents. I know you will make it despite your parents.
That’s all a thirteen-year-old kid needed to settle down for a short while. I had more problems again later. I needed more interventions. I was lucky. I got them. Perhaps because I sought them out? Perhaps because he planted that seed?