I’ve been very wrapped up in my kids’ stuff lately, and that’s put my mind very much on them, and noticing all the different things about them that are happening during their very exciting journey of being 4 years old.
Of those, one thing has been striking me repeatedly with it’s abstract bittersweetness.
My children are entering a tunnel that will take them away from me for many years. Occasionally I will get glimpses of who they are, but as the years go on, I know I can not go where they go.
They are entering childhood, and no adult may tread there. It is a land of alliances, treaties, pacts, battles, wars, folktales, ballads, native culture, secret handshakes, separate worries and separate truths.
It is a place of scientific inquiry and an absolute certainty in local superstition.
I can give them the knowledge of my own travels in that land, but the nature of these communications is such that the further inland they travel, less of this information will reach them. Many times by the time they receive that information it will be by their own hands and their own hard-fought experience.
I sometimes wonder if parenting styles like helicoptering, attachment parenting, free range parenting, and many others are simply methods people have come up with to fight or claim treaties with this land and those who travel through it.
My own truth is that I think there is no treaty to be made. All you can do is aim, and try to be a good person. I remind myself, again and again, of Kahlil Gibran’s famous poem “On Children”
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.