April 18, 2010

Parenting and Speech

I'm more than a little nervous about my meeting with the school tomorrow to talk about our options for Hunter. I want to be clear with my questions and make an informed decision about whether what they will offer him is for us or not. But I also don't want to come across as a crazy home schooler who hates the system. The whole I get it. I was a public school teacher too! thing doesn't really go over all that well either. It's kind of like saying, "I saw what you do from the inside and I decided it wasn't good enough but now I'm here begging for your mercy in this one area. It all feels very awkward.


And as I was running it all though my head, role playing it in advance and accounting for every scenario I could conjure, my thoughts started drifting towards what parenting is for each and every one of us. We all just want to give our kids the most idyllic childhood possible, and we can all relate to that desire because it is universal. It's only when our ideas about what would create that perfect childhood start to differ and step across very personal lines that there becomes misunderstanding and disharmony.


And with all of this swirling in my head, I thought about the chapter in the Kahlil Gibran book, the Prophet, on children. My aunt Karen e-mailed me this passage once, and it touched me so much that I quickly ordered myself an antique copy of the book and poured over every page of it with intense satisfaction. But truly, the words on children are so true and beautiful that they have shaped the imagery of childhood in my mind forever. These are the words:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

That's kind of it, isn't it? I don't want to give them someone else's thoughts or my own. I want to show them the world and then hear their thoughts. I learn so much from them and their wonder. But I also want Hunter's thoughts (and his brother's thoughts, which are often expressed in Hunter language) to be clear for the world to hear. And I want his sister to know the secrets he tells her. I want him to have the chance to be himself before he gets an idea of what cool is and tries to be like someone else. We have the school thing down to an art and a love over here, so I don't want to make this jump if he's going to be learning colors, shapes, and social graces. He knows those. We need encouragement and speech. That's about it.

When I see those beautiful kids of mine, their dirt smudged little smiles and their hilarious laughter, I see everything that's important for today and tomorrow. I can't imagine life any other way, and so tomorrow looms big for me. Making good decisions for the whole child isn't always easy. I'm praying for wisdom and guidance tonight.

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