Friday, July 6, 2012

Relief trucks on way

We've officially reached that moment in summer when I stop believing that fall will ever come, or snow, or cool weather, and it will be hot, gray and grim until forever. This would be depressing except that my inner response seems to be, oh well, better keep working, then - which is kind of a relief, to just give up on the idea of reaching for the stars, or blissfully idyllic autumn runs, or homegrown ripe apples, and just put my head down and do what needs to be done.

So it's kind of hard to believe that the high tomorrow is supposed to be 75. I hope it doesn't lead to a sense of wild imbalance or unsustainable hope.

One thing that has been a backdoor relief for some of us - for me, mostly - is that the crackling dry city combined with all these fires has led to a complete and total moratorium on home fireworks (and a near-moratorium on commercial displays). Silas got weepy about it - "I just don't want to have a fourth of July without fireworks," he said, sobbing, and my heart broke a little, because we *could* have dragged ourselves downtown, in the traffic on a work night, to the lacrosse game at Mile High Stadium, where there would be fireworks, except that we cruelly opted for sensible. Meeeean, is what we are. Especially since I felt nothing but triumph in my heart about getting to opt out of the "highly illegal vs. but it's so fun" debate this year.

Anyhow. It kind of comes back to something I've been thinking about a lot this summer - I wrote about it on the Get Born blog, but imperfectly - this disconnect between what we want for our kids and what they themselves want. One of the commenters on that post made the excellent point that one of hard things about parenting is finding out that "children are people--real, flawed, normal people." When they're beautiful babies who have everything yet to learn, it's easy to think they can be anything; then they start growing up and it turns out that they actually have no desire to chase the gold ring, or the brass ring, or however the saying goes. Silas is never going to be an aggressive competitor, the one who gets down the mountain the fastest, or who stays at the gym the longest, or who cranks out the most perfect score on the most important test - and this should not be a surprise, since neither are his parents. He's going to be someone who gets pretty close, since he is smart, and he does have kind of a talent for throwing a ball - and he'll like being that close, and maybe even feel that he's entitled to be there, since he's smart, everyone says so - but then when it comes to consolidating his gains and closing in for the gold, he'll abstain, and go off to play his iPod touch instead. Just like me, only for me it's a good book and an afternoon spent puttering around the yard.

The difference seems to be that I feel like my lack of ambition is a calculated choice, and is furthermore sustainable, as in it's paid for by a job. Whereas one could argue that I and all the other parents who urge their kids to improve their freestyle stroke or practice reading for one hour a day or work on their endurance are deeply insecure about their children's ability to become functioning adults.

Or maybe it's that we want our kids to become a certain kind of functioning adult - I would be so very depressed if Si chose to support his video game lifestyle by becoming the manager of a Chick Fil-A, for example, even though the salary he'd most likely pull down is not much different from M's salary as a professor.

I ought to point out that I would also be disappointed if he chose to support his video game lifestyle by becoming an investment banker. It would be a different kind of disappointment, however. One mixed with pride and bafflement (you do what, again, son? invest in...banks?)

I get confused, though, about how much of that choice is my business. I assume, I think, that Silas would find that managing a Chick Fil-A as depressing as I do, and I am trying to steer him toward a path that avoids it. But what if he would actually like managing a fast food joint? (shudder) It's no berth on a major league baseball team, sure, but I think we need to agree that there's going to be some kind of Plan B for that dream. What if his satisfactory Plan B is different from my idea of a satisfactory Plan B? What then? How do I parent that? I have no earthly idea.

If anything, I feel like I'm steering him toward the investment banker option. He's good at math, and I know enough about schoolish things to encourage him in this pursuit and encourage him in improving his math scores and math savvy - mostly by taking advantage of various school and community math-burnishing options. But where do these lead? What if they lead toward investment banking? I don't even know. I just cheer on the sidelines and push him in the community-sanctioned directions and I'm not even sure what the community is sanctioning.

You know what I mean? Parenting is the blind leading the blind, man. And then getting crabby when the follower doesn't end up where we wanted him to go.

1 comment:

Korinthia said...

It's so interesting to speculate what our children will grow up to do. I think a lot about how in school they are expected to be good in all subjects, even though as adults we specialize and don't expect to be good at so much anymore.