Resolution 37 - Thoughts from 30,000 ft, part 2 - how best to nurture your kids' future
This is the second blog I penned high above the Atlantic a week or so ago.
The book Bounce really got me thinking. That and I tend to be more emotional when flying. Must be the air pressure or something.
Anyway, I wondered around the following thought - is it better to focus your child's efforts in order to guarantee them the best chance of success. Or give them lots of different experiences, chopping and changing to see what sticks, knowing deep down it is not really them deciding for themselves, but more likely a result of external forces, fickle fashions, chance meetings or coincidences, or teenage obstinacy in my case.
I played football because my dad insisted on taking me to cub scouts. I didn't want to go. He had to goad me onto the pitch. He knew me better than I knew myself. I loved it. In fact I adopted a lead role immediately despite being the youngest, most inexperienced and lacking any real skill.
He also later coaxed a stroppy teenager into learning how to be a qualified football referee with two other dads. I got top marks in the theory test as it happens, but never really took to it in practise. The uniform didn't fit in more ways than one.
My mum encouraged me to be artistic. Falsely praising my supposed talents beyond rhyme or reason. She would over-enthusiastically wow my every attempt. But to some extent the over encouragement worked. For a while they both humoured my attempts at acting, albeit I was too lazy to learn my lines properly for the school play.
It turned out my tendency to wing it was not ideal mid monologue in Charles Dickins' A Christmas Carol.
And then as it turned out, my chosen career was an act of chance. Forced to quickly decide on a course I stumbled upon PR. The choice had been narrowed down by my GCSEs, and no doubt Derrin Brown could've predicted the outcome better than any career's advisor. But ending up in Leeds was not a forgone conclusion.
So how then should I approach my own kids' upbringing. They already conform to many stereotypes. Both attend ballet class on a Saturday morning donning pretty pink tutus. The elder one also now goes to Rainbows (a pre cursor to Brownies). Their mother is an enthusiastic arts and crafter, and happily spends hours with them making toys, or making cards for Granny. She is also a teacher, among other things, and nurtures their reading and writing skills. We are therefore already overtly shaping their destinies, yet they are barely 5 and 3 years old.
They eat healthily. We love them openly and warmly. We celebrate minor successes and encourage the right behaviours so as to allow them to thrive at school or nursery. Yet how much is already beyond our collective control?
At what point does the most prevailing force become one of fate, or of chance?
I think I'm answering my own question to some extent.
In the end I guess you can only do what you can do in order to give your kids everything they need in a loving environment so that when they reach the many crossroads in life, they are best equipped to make the right decisions for themselves.
In the meantime, don't worry too much about tomorrow, just enjoy today, because yesterday is already a long time ago.
Well come on, if I can't be soppy on Valentine's Day, when can I?