By P. Berman, K. Hecht & A. Hosack
Claire is the only one who cares about me.
Larry had a lot of time to himself in prison. One of the things he looked forward to each day was the possibility that a letter from Claire would arrive in the mail. While still angry at her, he realized that unlike the rest of the world, she cared that he existed
In her latest letter, Claire told him she had taken Davy to a Head Start picnic. The teachers had created silly contests for the kids to play. Davy had won a first- place ribbon because he ran so fast through their obstacle course.
Davy won a contest!
As Larry read, and re-read these comments about Davy, he experienced something odd.
Huh?…….(Larry shook his head)…What is this?
When on the outside, hearing Claire say Davy, triggered his rage; he had experienced this immediate gut reaction that Davy had turned his woman against him, making her question his actions. Now, seeing the name Davy, and reading about what he had done, was making him feel proud. Most of the men he talked to in prison had kids on the outside and it was one of the few things they could talk about without getting into a fight.
Whenever they sat around the empty yard outside, or in the cafeteria, they would talk about the life they had left behind and read each other’s letters. At first, while Larry listened eagerly to other men’s letters, he hid his. It had been a big risk to Larry, when he first offered to share one of Claire’s letters. They weren’t exactly embarrassing, but they were full of small kid stuff and Larry feared ridicule.
Overtime he realized the other men were as lonely as he was- and as anxious to avoid ridicule. All news from the outside was interesting in comparison to what was happening on the inside. Sometimes they laughed at things In each other’s letters, but in a companionable way- like they were some type of club or something. Larry had begun to look forward to this sharing and was disappointed when he didn’t have anything new to offer. The guys were so hungry for any entertainment that they re-read old letters when there wasn’t anything new.
Some of these guys had literally been in prison the entire time their kids were growing up. They envied Larry that he would get out in time to teach Davy a few things. It was strange for Larry to consider teaching Davy the stuff these guys were talking about, like how to play baseball or how to kiss a girl. All Larry had learned from his dad was how to fight and how to hate.
Larry wondered if he could learn to be the kind of dad that taught his son things? The head of Martin’s gang was so smart it was scary. He was always talking to Larry about the bad things that happened to his own kids because he was stuck in jail. Davy might get bullied at school for being poor, and for having a dad in prison. Who would stand up to any teachers who tried to push Davy around?
Larry is in prison, and Davy is not. This time spent apart has been found to have negative effects for both father and son. Programs such as Parenting Inside Out were designed to help incarcerated adults form healthy relationships with their children while in prison and continue those relationships outside. To learn more, visit: http://www.parentinginsideout.org