Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Playing the didgeridoo

Somewhere in the intricacies of my children are my most important lessons learned.  One of the biggest lessons on my mind this week: My children are not extensions of me.  I am actually fairly irrelevant in who they are...who they'll become.  I can shape their spirits for good or bad... I do believe that. 

But the core of who they are.  What drives them, what makes their eyes shine, what nourishes their soul.  That part has nothing to do with me.

I am just a vehicle that brought these persons here...changed their diapers and nursed them...and then drive them around town for playdates.

Yes, I gave Jack my mother's hair and face shape.  He has my father's eyes.  The physical traits, definitely.  We cobble together DNA and make a shell in which to house this new soul about to enter the world.

And we can see parallels in personalities, like how much Jack's personality mirrors my dad.  But maybe it's like reading a horoscope, in that you can find similarities anytime you're looking for them.


I do know this:

When I envisioned parenthood, I really thought I'd see some reflection of myself in my child.  I'll admit, I had this picture of teaching my children about the things I love.  Because since they're 50% ME, won't they probably share some of my interests?

And then along came Jack.  And truth be told, I think he's hard-wired to become passionate about the VERY things with which I can't help ONE BIT.  I figured I had until junior high or so before I was baffled by how to help my children.  Elementary math, sure.  Reading and writing, no problem. 

His current passions are Russian and French, and my only contribution there is knowing how to count to 10 in bad French.  I speak some Spanish, and he's planning to drop that language at co-op to "learn later."  Okaaaaay.  There goes his mother's only window for assistance.

And now, he learned about computer programming in his robotics class, and spends hours making things in the Scratch program.  He asks these incredibly aware questions, like: "How do I make a command to change the background from this option to this one, after I make a command for this to explode when the meteorite touches the rocket?"  And I had to hunt for awhile just to figure out how to save the damn project. 

Computer programming is as foreign of a language to me as Russian is.  Really.   I am going to have to outsource so much of this child, and we're just starting out.

In all honesty, each of these new hobbies does give me a bit of a jolt.  Because it's re-defining for me what a parent is supposed to be. 

I never set out to control my children, pre-determine their paths, pressure them down avenues they didn't want to go.  That's not my parenting struggle.

But in my interest in supporting and creating a foundation for their interests, wanting to be some type of homebase in their life, it's an odd feeling to see that I'm (in so many ways) crowded out of my 6-year-old's skill set.  When I look down where he's heading, I see this trend growing wider and wider.

I didn't want to be the parent just writing the checks to someone else to parent my child...and yes, I know...finding someone to teach him computer programming isn't exactly parenting core elements.  I still get to teach him cool setting up a tent, how to navigate in a foreign country, how to hide spinach in meatloaf.  There are a few things I can teach along the way.  :)

Jack is trailblazing my mothering self...creating how I mother and how I see my role.  And I am so grateful to him for being so strikingly dissimilar from me.  Because the ones that follow him, there's no adjustment period.  If Andrew decides to throw himself into playing the didgeridoo at age 5, I'm emotionally prepared.

And I now know how to go on Craigslist and beg for someone to teach my child something for which I have no skill set.