Sunday, March 15, 2015

Leading, Following, and Just Keeping Up

Ahh, parenthood--that odd combination of getting what you want for your kids and supporting what your kids want for themselves. Today, as I watched my son at his robotics tournament, an event for which he's been preparing during afterschool sessions a few times a week, I was glad he was doing something that required thought and figuring. I was glad he was working with a team. Somewhere inside, I probably wanted his team to qualify for the next step, because we all want our children to be winners. But after a respectable performance and the fairly clear evidence that his team would go no farther, he was ready to be done. Shouldn't we stay, I wondered, to watch the closing ceremonies with the team? But he was tired (I was too), and after a little speech about team and spirit, I quickly deferred to his desire to move on with his day. For while the endeavor may have been about team and spirit, it was also about engineering and persistence. He had engineered and persisted, and he had worked with his teammates. It didn't matter so much to him whether they advanced, or whether he experienced every moment of the event. He had other "places to be," other "things to do." And somewhere in me, I had to respect that. He had followed something through--one of those things we parents want our kids to do. But, having done that, he moved on to something else--challenging me as a parent to support what HE wanted to do.

There is a fine line between leading our kids in directions we want, and following them in the directions that inspire them. Often, it makes for a pretty zig-zaggy path, and sometimes, it's hard to keep up. But I guess that's just part of what makes life interesting--every zig-zaggy step of the way.

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