Monday, April 11, 2011

Operating Instructions

I just finished reading Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year by Anne Lamott this morning. Fabulous book, and it got me thinking...

In it, the author is determined (in a funny way, not too much a scary way) to instill in her son from infancy the political ideals that she holds to. She whispers her liberal rhetoric in his ears as he sleeps and nurses. She thinks she will turn him into a brilliant opposition leader someday.

In a similar way, having a kid reminds of the feeling I would get every time I moved schools when I was a kid (which was a LOT): I could start over completely and be whomever I wanted to be! I could re-invent myself as something different than I was before! Of course, this never really worked out for me. I was always the nerdy, funny, slightly off-kilter redhead, no matter where I went. But the feeling was there...this infinite power in my grasp to remold myself and change my destiny. There is a little piece of me that feels that sense of power when I think about Calvin and how I can mold him into who I want him to be.

Then again, I've seen enough to realize that this won't necessarily work out for me, either. Just because I want Calvin to have his dad's smarts and my sense of humor, and to inherit easy-going ways from both his parents, well...that's not necessarily how this all works! I get that.

But I also know that there are some things that I wish Calvin to know and grasp right out of the hopper. For instance, I want him to know his Creator. I want him to know that life is not about rules and regulations, but about loving God and loving people in ways both tangible and intangible. I want him to have great faith and great humor in equal quantities so that he can deal with devastating blows as they come, because I know they will. I want him to really know these things in a way that effects the way he thinks and makes decisions and lives his entire life.

How this all shakes out, of course, remains to be seen. Perhaps I should be praying for that great faith and great humor in equal quantities as I raise my son. I think I'm going to need them!

1 comment:

Tom said...

If there was an easy formula for raising a well rounded child then I would be much more relaxed about the whole affair!

I love being a dad, getting to help shape the life that has been given to you; to teach, guide and discipline... Its an awesome responibility.

I remember hearing a teacher that said as a dad, my daughter would use the same name for me as she would for God. the way dads are with their kids impacts their understanding of god. And too mothers.... But then I am a dad hence the dad talk haha.