“There’s no sense letting all this beauty go to waste.” —“Beauty,” The Sun Magazine, Issue 417
It’s easy to get wrapped up in what you want for your kids. Much of the time, it’s probably what we wanted for ourselves. Even in kids as young as mine, I see traits and talents in them that I jump on and try to nurture. I don’t want anything to go to waste. They’re potential is as beautiful as it gets.
I know what my kids mean to me, which is everything, as nearly every parent understands. Some days they just have a way of completing you all over again. And it makes a mom stand up and take notice of the sheer beauty that makes them, them.
I have no desire to be a so-called helicopter parent, a dictator, or “that mom.” But I sure don’t want to stand by and see obvious talents go untapped. That’s a balance I’ll have to master as we go.
I get excited when my kids get excited about something. But I realize it’s easy to get all out of whack with the possibilities. We tell ourselves we’re doing them some kind of favor by giving them a head start in the “right” direction, pushing them toward what we consider to be their talents. But when we become so focused on guiding (pushing) them, it’s a slippery progression.
I’ve heard the comparison to the act of falling asleep. It happens slowly and when someone is actually asleep, they don’t know it. They’re just…in it.
I watched a home design show this past weekend called “Blank Canvas.” The idea is whitewashing an entire house interior, hence the blank canvas, and then bringing colors back in that suit the personalities and styles of each family member.
When you start with pure white, it does change how you view a room. It allows you to see the potential of the space. And so it is with kids.
It started with Day 1. There they are, shiny and new, no preconceptions, no idea what they will like, dislike, want or think. It’s easy to see why we unintentionally go a little psycho at times. They are a blank canvas of sorts, but not for our amusement.
Character Rhaim Khan, from the book “The Kite Runner,” said, “Children aren’t coloring books. You don’t get to fill them in with your favorite colors.”
But that’s not to say we can’t show them our favorite colors.
There was a story compilation in The Sun Magazine called “Beauty.” The first submission was about a boy, the son of a mechanic, who at the dismay of his hard-nosed father, had absolutely no interest in cars or how they worked. He grew up with his father’s disgust and disappointment and as an adult, because of his adamancy in avoiding all things mechanical, was afraid of anything breaking down on his watch.
“The ‘check engine’ light sends shivers down my spine. A leaky roof causes me to panic. When our washing machine starts spewing water all over the floor one day, my wife gives me a ‘What are we going to do now?’”
In between the belittlings of his childhood, his father did manage to pass along one piece of advice that stuck. He told him, “If something is broken, take a look at it, study it—you might be able to figure it out and fix it yourself for nothing.”
With that, the displaced self-proclaimed non-mechanical hippy disappointment of a son was able to fix his own washer after all by sealing a broken plastic part with his surfboard resin.
His father’s misdirected wisdom, his tool. And in the end, a beautiful thing that finally tied his father to him in a real way.
It makes me think about how I relate to my kids. I want to support without condition or expectations, but also protect them from missing something great if they don’t jump when the opportunity is there. I’d love to prop their eyes open so they don’t miss that one thing that will come by, eventually. Because, eventually, it will.
I try to show them what beauty is to me. Most of it is in their faces anyway. Or something that they show me. The more I learn about them, the more I resolve to make sure they see all the colors I see, what beauty is, how the definition varies from person to person, and how much of it is out there.
And most importantly that “there’s no sense letting all this beauty go to waste.”