Wednesday, November 07, 2007

"She's like you."

Lynda and I were getting ready to go to bed a few Sunday nights ago, reviewing the events of the weekend, discussing what we did, when we did it, etc. and I said these words when describing how Sarah was awake in her room past 9 pm, drawing and coloring something in one of her notebooks.

"She's like you," I told Lynda while we were brushing our teeth. "She gets her head into some project and loses track of time."

This is very true about Lynda, a defining characteristic of her since I met her in college. I can't tell you the number of times at Georgia Southern and since during her professional career when Lynda has stayed up for a long time, completely unaware of what time it was because she was so immersed in the sentence she was writing or the problem she was designing. Heck, just minutes before, when we were downstairs (me watching a DVD, she on her laptop designing manuscript), I made sure to announce that is was 12:30 and we should go to bed soon. I was absolutely certain that she had been unaware of the time would have plowed on for another hour if I hadn't stopped her.

But, even as I said the words "She's like you" a bit of my brain shouted at me that I shouldn't do that to Sarah (and I also made a mental note then to write this post). To say "She's like you," while true in the spirit of how it was said, is a diminishment of Sarah's real personality. . . and it serves as a challenge to me (us) as a parent (parents). Biologically, Sarah and Grace (and Hannah to come) are a part of me and a part of Lynda, but the mystery and the thrill and, frankly, the reason to have children is to see how those parts of us become Them, something absolutely new. It's reassuring to see a bit of ourselves in our children, but if that is all you want to see, then you are missing the best part of it all.

I know what it was like for me to be a kid, but that was almost forty years ago. My kids have things going on around them that I never had, and I had things going on in my life that they won't ever have. So, I don't want to be a father to myself. I want to be a father to these unique kids that make their own choices and have their own, very interesting personalities.

I have to remember that when I slip into the short-hand of "She's like you" because they are NOT you and won't be. I don't want to diminish who they are and who they will become, and more importantly, I don't want to limit their opportunities and choices based on my own short-hand view of things.

They are themselves. And that means they are a mystery to me and to themselves. My job is to walk alongside them while they figure out what that means. Maybe right now I am holding their hands while we walk, but someday I'll have to let them walk ahead of me.

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