There comes a time in people’s lives when they have to decide what they want out of life. For some, they know as soon as they’re born. For others, it takes a lifetime. That’s a lifetime of going through the motions of living, making mistakes, hurting—but learning—learning what makes them tick, what makes them feel, what makes them happy.
No one ever said life is easy. In some respect, it’s not. It’s a matter of perspective. The choices will either encourage change in a person or force them to resist. One thing’s for certain, change will happen, whether someone wants it or not.
When I was a young boy, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I had creativity in my blood. On my mother’s side, music dominated our genes to produce a multitude of musical geniuses including a symphony composer and conductor in South America. On my father’s side, sports lives in the Flacco blood. The Flaccos have always pushed the limits in anything they put their hand to.
Then, there’s me. My story? I drifted. After finishing high school, I went from knowing I wanted to be a writer to working in blue-collar factories for seven years. If that wasn’t enough to learn a lesson, I then went into accounting for another seven years. That’s fourteen years—gone. That’s not including the added distraction of wanting to be a rock star. I mentioned that somewhere, didn’t I? Yes, I studied musical composition in Toronto, following the lead of my mom’s gene pool. Suffice it to say things didn’t work out quite as expected.
Ages later, after many hits and misses, I’m happy to say I’m doing the very thing I should have pursued right from grade school when the inkling of being a writer sprung into my mind.
Now, I’m going to play the part of devil’s advocate here and say a few things folks may not like. Kids know what they want to be. I really believe that. I believe kids not only know what they want to do with their lives, but they express it from an early age. They’re not going to say straight out “I want to be a doctor” or “I want to be an astronaut” or even say anything at all. Sometimes they’ll say it in the most beautiful and powerful language known to us—the language of doing.
A child may draw all day, may dance, sing, read, write, swim, laugh, throw, act, play, jump, crawl, watch butterflies float, dream upon the clouds, help mom bake, help dad put the car back together, mow the lawn and yes, shovel the driveway—the point is they’re telling us what they’re good at.
So my Freedom Friday question is this: Why on earth would anyone want to discourage them from being anything other than what they’re good at?
Do you have kids? Do you know what they’re good at?
13 thoughts on “The Love for a Child”
Preach it, Jack. I think kids have a better perspective of the world because they don’t have the “I can’t do that” bug in their brain yet. Really, with the right amount of encouragement and education, they can do and be whatever—so why the heck not?
Fantastic post! 🙂
My parents came from working class backgrounds, and had to work hard to build successful lives. Like all parents, they wanted me to go farther with less struggle, so they encouraged me to develop myself with a lucrative career in mind, rather than focusing on what I wanted and was GOOD AT. None of that “do what you love and the money will follow” stuff. It’s just not how they were raised, or how they are wired. I’m not complaining, but it was an epiphany when I realized the benefits of pointing myself in the direction of what brings me joy (which naturally tends to be what I’m good at). There aren’t enough career self help books on the planet to morph me into anything but a so-so accountant or whatever. I am grateful to have figured this out, but wish it’d happened sooner 🙂
I think a lot of the disconnect between parents and children is from a generation gap. Parents were raised in a different world than their children. Life experiences are different, and world events mold the generations differently.
I understand completely your statement, “I am grateful to have figured this out, but wish it’d happened sooner.”
Look at the path your life has taken. I would venture to guess that you learned lessons that you could not have learned in any other way. Sometimes that has to be enough. We go through hard times and learning experiences to grow ourselves, and then to help others. As a writer, you have a marvelous connection to those you can help. And you have experience that guides your individual voice. One of my favorite quotes is from a concept artist, Iain McKaig, “Nervous as you feel, much as you think someone’s done it better, no one will ever do it quite like you.” You can watch the entire interview here, with the quote at 10:45 – http://youtu.be/qNu4xzHTP60
I heard a speaker in church recently say that when we give orders to children, we are telling them to “be like us.” When we share experiences through story, we give permission for the child (or person) to put themselves into the situation and see what they would do – to learn from the story. The callback was teaching in parables – stories where the listener already has a measure of understanding – and relating simple messages through stories.
Yes, children know what they are good at when they are young. By the time they reach 10, they realize what others are good at, and what seems cool, and many times they abandon what they enjoyed doing. Remember what Picasso said about keeping a child an artist? It is at about 10 years old, when the child’s worldview starts to expand beyond the home, that they try to fit in, or be cool, or please others to get along.
For myself, I knew that I wanted to be a writer at an early age. During my teen years I wanted to write and draw comic books (still a goal to get a graphic novel done), and make movies. Hopes were dashed to pieces by an off-handed comment by a valued opinionista. College plans fell apart, and I went the blue-collar route for a while. Now firmly entrenched in adulthood, I am back to what I originally wanted to do – tell stories.
We all go through cycles of faith in our dreams. By encouraging children to discover what it is about their dreams that appeals to them, we broaden their horizons. When we tell them to be like us, we are trying to preserve ourselves in this world. Not a bad hope, but not realistic, either. There is only one of you, there will only ever be one of you, so how are you making the world just a little bit better for you being here?
i’m currently trying to just let my child ‘be’ so to speak. it’s difficult. i was raised the opposite way. expectations were planted on me even before i was born. and i would be lying if i said i had no expectations for my own child.
it’s okay, to have some expectations. after all, i think it’s okay to expect my child to learn proper manners, to try and be a good person, to have a compassionate heart, etc.
but as far as what she wants to do, i am trying to stand back and let her navigate here. it is difficult. i want the best for her but i know that she has to be happy with her choices.
i can say that my child is good with people. from preschool, she had this calming ability over some of her fellow classmates whom were eventually diagnosed with some challenges (special needs/special education). more than once, i would go pick her up and the caregivers would gush about how thankful they were to have my daughter in their class.
usually this ended up being some type of frustration on the caregiver’s part with one of these said children, where my daughter stepped in, took over, and the situation was then under control. and she was only 3-4 at the time.
she just always had that natural, empathic ability. so i do wonder if this is what she is meant to do in life.
What a fabulous post, Jack! I hope you’re not too frustrated about all those years because they add heaps of character to your stories. I used to write a lot when I was eight. I wish I had been encouraged. I remember my dad saying you can’t get a job reading and writing. My son wants to be a secret agent, hmm not sure I want to encourage that.
This is great, and a great reminder to me as a mom…I am going to make a point to really observe my sons this weekend to guess what they might like to be in their adult lives, as a game to myself…I will say that my 4-year-old just managed to casually work me for a megs-stuffed oreo to snack on while he plays his Kindle…and I brought it to him! What do you think? Diplomat? Lawyer? some master negotiation skills here…
It takes a very open mind to advocate the noble thoughts you pose. As natural and logical as it seems for us as parents to support the endeavors our kids show interest in, we often (knowingly or unknowingly) cast our own perceptions of reality onto them. And this is not productive.
Often, it takes people like you and I who have struggled with finding our own personal happy place in order to open our minds. To realize the time lost when we abandon what is calling at our core. And even so, that nagging voice inside still tries to convince you that you know what’s best for your child.
It’s a constant battle of the human psyche. Balancing the wisdom of maturity with the adventurous and free-spirited imagination of childhood. When these two meet at the proper crossroads, it’s magical. Thanks for the reminder that I am not always as wise as I might think 😉
Good point. When it comes what to do with one’s life, I always think about this snippet by Alan Watts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZ7Y1-0bNeQ.
Why would anyone want to discourage kids? Sometimes the kids’ ideas might seem to adventurous.
We let our daughter follow her dreams. She is happy – we are happy.
She once stated she didn’t want to study linguistics (I am a linguist) – guess what she did three years later. 😉
She never wanted to work for the same company. Guess where she is now.
Her own decisions – we did not interfere at all.
I’ve wondered that question. I think the push for something else stems from certain adults believing they know better. This is especially true if a child is into something a parent can’t understand or see a use in. For example, practicality gets thrown about toward a child determined to be an artist. I’m told it’s ‘for their own good’, but many times it comes off as brutal crushing. Though, if my son continues his declaration that he’s going to be a dog when he grows up, I might have to do something.