Saturday, March 18, 2006

My Son the Philosopher

Only a few weeks to go until graduation day. My boy Robert is finishing his degree in philosophy at Peterhouse, Cambridge.
I was only nineteen when I got Robert's mother in the family way and before her nine months were up I had been jailed for life. I think her parents were secretly relieved ; they had never approved of their daughter hanging around with me from the beginning and my conviction for murder just added weight to their case.
So I didn't see a lot of Robert as he grew up but I followed his steps from afar. He knows where I am and I expect he'll make contact, in his own time.
In any case, I'll be out in a couple more years. I'll be able to look him up myself.


Anonymous Rastaman said...

Sounds like you didn't see anything of him at all, actually. Also sounds like you have an expectation, or desire anyway, to connect, to be a part of his life. Since he hasn't contacted you this entire time, it might be good to be prepared for rejection. If my father were a total stranger who had been sent to prison for murdering 2 people, and my grandparents had told me many stories over the years of what a wild, perhaps insane (from their perspective) no-good he was, (I'm assuming this from what you said) I might not only not want to see him, I would undoubtedly be bloody well afraid of him.

At 40 you will still have a lot of living left to do and you can start a family of your own. Plain truth is you haven't earned familial rights by accidentally fathering a child and if no one has come after you for child support you may be just as well off, no matter how much you might fantasize over being a father to this young man.

Do you see him as the means of reconnecting to normal civilian life? He may just see it differently. Then what? Then maybe you get upset enough to do something stupid and end up back in prison again from a parole violation?

If you want to make contact with him, now might be the time to do it, not when you get out. Ask him if he would want to meet you and don't be shocked if he says no. He'll have 2 years to turn it over in his mind and he might come around. If you wait until you get out, you've lost the buffer-zone time.

I know this is personal stuff but you posted it for comment. Those are my comments.

3:37 AM  
Blogger Aunty Marianne said...

With a degree in philosophy he's going to need some further education before he's employable. I'd say another two years of accountancy, or something. So you've still got some time.

Congrats to him, by the way. You must be very proud.

8:42 AM  
Blogger Earl Jackson said...

Thank you Rastaman. I think it would be better not to give him too much time to think, though, no? I don't really want him to 'turn it over in his mind', or he might decide not to see me. And I won't have that!

Marianne you're completly right. It was a complete waste of time for him to study philosophy. That's one of the things that wouldn't have happened if I'd been there to guide the boy.

10:08 AM  
Anonymous Rastaman said...

So you're just going to bull your way into his life and give him the same guidance that you gave yourself to be where you are now. Whereas he guided himself through a college degree instead of 20 years in prison. Which one of you is the more qualified guide? Do you think he even wants your guidance? How do you know he even thinks of you at all? What have you learned in prison that will be useful on the outside? What will you teach him? Your anger?

You're right, you have too much time to brood. That's when we go into corners of our minds we ordinarily would never go, and we start creating the world as it will be when we're out, we work out how we'll do everything, step by step, in fine detail. We create a PLAN.
Then we get out and find we have to push aside this huge mountain of bullshit we created over the years in order to deal with the reality that just fronted us and blocked our way, and some of us can't do it. That's called "recidivism". Back we go leaving a trail of damage and dead dreams.

Man, is that what you want? He's not a "boy", he's a grown man and going to be more grown before you get out.
You sound like you feel guilty that you were never there for him. That's your problem but you want to make it his. You want to use him to feel good about yourself again. That's the plain truth of it. All you're going to end up doing is destroying any chance of a relationship with him and any chance of a decent life for yourself.

Get your own life together, set up your own goals that depend on your own responsibility toward yourself, find your own way. Don't dump yourself onto your son or anyone else like some angry parasite. Learn the art of letting go.

No one is to blame. We all only do what we're taught. We ARE all responsible though, regardless, and we either assume responsibility for our own lives or we end up as lifes failures. You failed because of what you had learned. Coming up is a chance to succeed, ONLY if you don't go at it with the same attitudes that caused the terrible failure that put you in prison. You can't blame others, you can't lean on others, you can't have expectations of other. You have to walk that road yourself.

4:44 PM  
Blogger Earl Jackson said...

Thanks Rastaman. You've given me something to chew over.

5:40 PM  
Blogger Katy Newton said...


However you handle making contact with him, you must be very proud that he's done so well.

10:10 PM  
Blogger Katy Newton said...

Especially as he's only 18, if the dates on your blog are correct (you convicted in 1988 whilst your girlfriend was still pregnant with your son). It must have been very difficult for him being one of the youngest there. Starting your degree at 15 is no joke.

11:41 PM  
Blogger Earl Jackson said...

They grow up so fast, nowadays, Katy; before you know it they've left university, found a life-partner and started their own blogs.

6:40 AM  
Anonymous Slight said...

Rastaman has a great point...My 2 cents would be....if i had a father who was in prison my entire life i would truely hate his guts and feel like he owes me something....I guess i feel that way because i am not that much older than robert.....but thats how i would feel....I guarantee robert has thought about his father in prison and perhaps wondered about meeting and what would happen ....but then reality will most likely snap back into place and his life will go back to how it has always been...a life completely without his biological father....whether your son will want to seek you out in the future is truely up to who he is as a person.....but in the end of....i would not expect too much

9:32 PM  

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