15 June 2009

The Ideal Parent State

As a small aside, I got a perfect 100% on my Music Appreciation essay, which keeps my record A+ perfect in the class so far. I rock. Now then, for our feature presentation of the evening:

I've had a fair bit of time in my life to think about what kind of parent I want to be someday (or even, for that matter, whether or not I even want to be a parent at all). My dad was 35 when I was born and at the rate I'm going I'll be at least 35 or 36 myself considering I'm likely to wait until I'm out of college before starting a family. Still, the older I get the more it occurs to me that I ought not to go to the grave without passing on my knowledge, wisdom, and possible accumulated wealth to an heir---if nothing else, the unhittable screwball I threw in my younger days deserves to find a new home in the capable hands of a son who, granted the benefit of a hands-on father, could avoid the fate that befell me at age fourteen on that spring day in 1992 when my throwing arm disintegrated on me, stopping in its tracks any hope I had of pitching competitively on anything greater than the high school freshman level.

Beyond that, it seems to me that the world could be made far more fundamentally interesting by what my wife and I would have to contribute via our respective legacies carried forth in any children we may have. My relentless idealism even in the face of some destructive events coupled with my wife's moral certitude and tendency to brook no evil from those who find themselves in her sphere of influence would doubtless produce someone who carried with them a set of traits that would serve them well in the world.

I'm also determined not to make the mistakes my mother made when she completely screwed the pooch on my upbringing. Besides the fact that she is a manipulative, emotionally abusive, coldhearted person (everything I am not, or at least everything I strive not to be even if I sometimes fall short of my own ideals), she tried to shoehorn me into a traditional education, a traditional socialization, and a "normal over individualistic" set of values. She at least had the decency to apologize for some of her failings; she decided not to put me in a private school for gifted and talented children, and she failed to heed the recommendation of the public school testing people that I start in the fourth grade rather than in kindergarten. The thought that I could have been solidly challenged from the word go rather than languishing in classes that did not challenge me at all is one of the great what-ifs of my childhood; had I been pushed to achieve I might have set the world on fire at fourteen rather than coming in fits and starts as I approached thirty.

All of this speaks mostly to my hopes that I am a better judge of my future children's needs. If I have a son who inherits the mathematical wizardry of his father and that I inherited from my own father, I hope to lead by example and show the boy what can come of the passionate pursuit of a natural-born skill coupled with a determination not to let side requirements erode the sense of self-worth and develop a persecution complex like the one I carried with me after my initial failing my first time through college. I want to encourage rather than stifle my child's intellect and passion. Even if the kids turn out to be of meager intellectual worth, there are a fair number of traits that are not born but learned, and whatever drives my offspring will become as much my passion on their behalf as it is theirs in their own psychological makeup.

I often think to myself that sooner or later the idle love of personal pursuits can only carry one so far; eventually either all the possible roads that are viable have been traveled or else one must think of something greater than oneself. I've become quite religious over the past couple of years (as a polytheist, mind you, not a Christian or other traditional organized religious practice) and the more I reflect on honor to the gods the more I think that to truly honor my own creation, I must pass that gift from the gods forward so that my choices in life do not simply exist in a hollow vacuum. I have settled down, I have married, I have chosen a path in life, but all this simply drives toward what is likely an inevitable conclusion.

It speaks volumes that every time I have been in a position where I could, at least in theory, support children financially (even if in this particular case I'm waiting three years for the wheels to be set in motion), my mind has drifted to the trials and rewards of fatherhood. There's also the fact that my own father died at forty-four; since I hit thirty I've had that spectre haunting my own thoughts. The more I realize I'm not going to live forever, the stronger those procreative urges hit me. What that means to me I'm still not completely sure, but I've got three good years at least to figure it out.

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