It was my day to pick up the three little boys from school and I sat in the parking lot watching them come down the hill from their small school. There is a nice little walking path made of concrete right down the middle of two grassy/tree filled areas. It’s designed for WALKING on. To make it easier. To walk. But as usual all three of them zigzagged across the grass, throwing pine cones at each other, leaping over the bushes and skirting the trees like medium sized forest animals with backpacks and pink cheeked grins.
I thought to myself: “Why don’t my children EVER take the path of least resistance?” but then started reciting Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” in my head and did my best to ignore the grass and mud on their shoes as they noisily climbed into the car…and it made all the difference:) (Oh do read the poem if you haven’t before. It’s short, and so wonderful.)
See, here’s the thing. My deepest hope is that my kids DO take the road less traveled. As often as possible. I don’t want them to always do what is expected of them by me or Grant or the world (save for being compassionate, picking up after themselves, doing their best at whatever is their current doing, and maybe getting a job come time that they need gas money: good life fundamentals). I want them to follow their interests even if people frown and say “that’s a waste of time” or “that won’t make you any money” or “you’re crazy for wanting to try that”. I want them to close their ears and keep their eyes and hearts wide open. And try, try and try, without fear of judgment or fear of failure. I want them to lead their lives like explorers.
I am probably not hard enough on my children when it comes to pushing them to set and achieve goals but it seems to me that it’s better to just be aware enough to notice what makes their eyes light up, blow softly on the spark, step back and let them do their thing. That might seem like passive parenting but I myself am pretty new at the idea of noticing and following through with what makes my own heart sing and I know how fragile that can be when it’s a fresh ember. It’s easily snuffed out.
I think it’s because so many people are so focused on ‘getting there’ that they scoff at the mud and grass that comes from taking the path that was fun and interesting to try.