“Hey Junior, what do you want to be when you grow up?”
“I want to be a fire engine. Varoooooom!”
How many people actually become that thing they wanted to be when they were five years old? Something tells me that if I were to conduct a study the stats would be stacked against most people’s childhood assessment of career plans. Yet we prod our kids like there’s a chance that they can be whoever they want to be. Then we are surprised that they have self-esteem issues as they get older and realize that they have to choose a sensible career that yields the returns for a life they are interested in leading.
In some ways this reminds me of how a first time parent feels. You give birth to this perfect human being that can become anything. That feeling is so intense that us crazy first time parents are willing to go broke nourishing their children with the utmost in organic foods. Slaves have worked less hard than a first time parent’s efforts to disinfect every toy in their household. And at the end of the day, we all still wind up with a snot nosed brat who shouts “I hate you” in the middle of a mall parking lot.
Do we put too much pressure on our first born to be a super human child that we dreamt up? Is expecting our children to be nourished with more fruits and vegetables than fatty starches and sugar unrealistic? Is it almost like someone said, “hey Junior, what kind of kid do you want when you grow up? One who cooperates or one who never listens to you ?”
Somewhere in the world of thinking I could be president if I wanted to badly enough, I also expected I would be the best parent. Or maybe I wouldn’t be the best parent, but I’d have the best kids. And I do, don’t get me wrong, but it’s taken me awhile to realize it.
I think the second born might be where a parent, or at least me, starts to get it. I started to accept that I can’t control everything, embrace that I can’t suppress certain behaviors as much as I may detest them and just be more understanding. And as I get used to that, I realize how special my children really are. It only took having three of them to really get it. It’s not just about dreaming it up, it’s more about working with the realty (whatever that translates to). Somedays it gets really ugly and feels like I’ve come so far from those dreams I had as an adolescent. And then somedays it feels spot on 🙂