Saturday, November 11, 2006

Giving Our Children More Than We Had

Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, at least some part of our parenting philosophy stems from a desire to give our children what we did not receive when we were young. In my case, I’m not lamenting material things. I couldn't care less about not having a zillion Barbie dolls or about always getting wise to the “current” clothing fad just when everyone else was moving onto the next one. Despite our loving families’ attempts to lavish our children with toys and clothes, David and I are really simplistic people. We feel like the more stuff we own, the more our stuff owns us (and believe me, we’ve moved enough times to feel this acutely). No, what I really feel I want to give my children are opportunities. And by opportunities I don’t mean activities like gymnastics class, violin lessons and underwater basket-weaving classes (though that may come in handy some day!). I guess what I really want them to have are chances to discover who they are–-who God has created them to be—so that they can confidently go out there and be that specific Perry and that specific Daisy.

Example from my own life:

When I was in elementary school, the teacher got the whole class together and asked each student in turn what subject they really liked the most. She wrote it on the blackboard and then, next to it, wrote a list of careers that child might want to pursue. Students that liked science were told that they would make excellent doctors and those that liked math, engineers…that sort of thing. When the teacher came to me, I told her that I loved handwriting. She was dumbfounded. With a big smile I anticipated her response. “What can I do with handwriting?” I asked her. “Well, you…you can’t do anything with handwriting.” She said. I was crushed.

At another point in my childhood I was in girl scouts and the leader was asking all of us what we wanted to be when we grew up. I told her that I wanted to join the circus. “But what do you want to do?” I didn’t know what to answer so I just “changed my mind” and told her what the other girls did “I mean, I want to be a ballerina.” That seemed to satisfy her, though on a practicality scale, I think they both probably fall equally as low.

I’m not complaining about my life. These past 2 years, 3 in January, that I have been a wife, and shortly after that a mother, have been the happiest of my life. I wouldn’t trade them for P.T. Barnum himself. But for my kids, I want them to reach for the stars, even if I know they will fall short. Right now Perry likes to listen to stories, and sometimes he likes to “read” or “sing” them to himself. I pray that I will always be able to come up with encouraging and creative ways for him to express his gifts and abilities. And Daisy, well, if she wants to fallow me around the house and whine until I pick her up, but be happy and contented as long as she is loved and snuggled; I am happy to accommodate her for as long as this is her life’s desire.

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