Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ruminations on Parenting

Today is my son's last full day at camp. Today he will be scuba diving in the pool during buoyancy training which I think is TOTALLY COOL.

Have I mentioned that, as a kid, I was totally and completely mesmerized by Jacques Cousteau? When I recently ordered some of his old shows off Netflix, I actually found myself quoting the narrator on occasion. Yeah, thirty some years later and I still remembered.

What did I do yesterday? Not a clue.

I actually went into a funk when Bob Ballard (who is at the top of my "let's just grab a beer and chat" list) found the Titanic. Not because I was all sad that the historic mystery behind the shipwreck was solved or that the vultures would soon be descending upon the ship and picking its bones. I went into a funk because I DIDN'T FIND IT FIRST.

Yeah. Mind you, I wasn't a marine archaeologist, biologist, or submariner. I was a junior in high school a long way from the ocean.

My kids have never shared my interest in all things aquatic. When I pointed out to my daughter that her new school offered marine biology as a class, she was quick to point out "that's you mom, not me."


Whenever I see parents living through their kids, I get a little testy. Beauty pagents? Hockey Nazi's? Granted, there are no doubt a contingent of kids that enjoy these pastimes but I'm thinking that there are a lot more parents living vicariously through their kids.

I never forced my kids to participate in activities. I'm sure that some parents would think that it builds character or something. All I know is that I tried to expose my kids to many things and then I stood back and supported their interests.

My daughter still remembers when I decorated her walk-in closet to look like the inside of the Apollo lunar lander. Believe me, a lot of aluminum foil on the walls with some stock NASA images behind the porthole windows and I'll be damned but you've got a spaceship!

Did that make my daughter want to be an astronaut? No, but she has an amazing creative imagination.

A few weeks ago I heard about the American kid that has become the youngest kid to sail around the world. Not only was I in awe of his accomplishment (maritime nerd fest again!), but I wondered what his parents must be like. It's one thing to devote your life as a parent to your child's hockey career when they are seven years old, it's quite another thing to watch your child sail off into the sunset knowing that there is a very real risk that something terrible could happen.

I remember a few years back when a seven year old girl wanted to fly a plane from coast to coast and she ended up crashing and everyone on board, including her father and flight instructor, died. At the time it really pissed me off because I felt that a seven year old wouldn't really understand the inherent risk she was taking. I also couldn't fathom a seven year old reacting to an emergency situation in mid-air.

I still, to this day, feel this way. I think a kid needs to at least be fifteen or so to comprehend that what they are doing could go very wrong and that they need to realize that they literally have their own life in their hands.

But then there will be that amazing kid that comes along and wants to climb Mt Everest at the age of ten and there will be a parents that just want to encourage their child's dreams. It's a hard call.

When it goes right, it's incredibly cool. When it goes wrong, it's incredibly sad.

Kind of like life, eh?

1 comment:

superiorfan said...

Thought you might want to post this.
link to shared document regarding comedy night next wednesday supporting CASDA (Center Against Sexual and Domestic Abuse) over here in Superior.

sorry to intrude on your blog, hope you don't mind.