Fata Morgana (chimerically) wrote,
Fata Morgana

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The night after dag29580863 left, my dad and I had a long conversation about science, religion, globalization, and parenting. He says the most important thing in parenting - or in any interaction with kids - is to treat children as equals, and realize that in many ways they are intellectual superiors. I've seen various parents and teachers treat kids like they were empty vessels to be filled or lumps of clay that had to be molded (sometimes pounded) into shape, but they are treating children as subhuman and killing that amazing creativity and inquisitiveness that make kids so much smarter than us. I've also seen many kids who have complete control of their parents, because their parents underestimate their kids' ability to analyze a situation and get the upper hand. Or they'll be controlled for a while, but when they're teenagers they're not going to consider their parents as equals, and they're going to feel that it's necessary to go behind their backs. (My mom unilaterally set my curfew, but my dad and I discussed it and jointly set one. The trust was there.)

I sometimes worry that I won't be a good parent because I have such a distaste for closed-mindedness and consumerism and a host of other things, that I'd be really disappointed if my kid ended up with any of those qualities ... or worse, I'd try to force it out of them. My dad laughed and brushed this off: "No kid of yours could end up that way." Really? Why not? He shrugged, then said he just couldn't describe the excitement and joy of being a parent, and how it changes you. He didn't think such worries would even cross my mind when I became a parent. But when I lose control, when they're teenagers? "You never have 'control' of your kids," Dad admonishes. You just teach them, and learn from them too.

It'll be interesting to see how my dad and other family members are when they get old. Until my first landlady in Berkeley, I had not met one person over 65 who was happy. When I was a teenager I vowed that when I was old I'd be like Miss Violet (I think?) in Anne of Green Gables, who has flowing white hair and keeps a lovely house and reads and is wonderful company. There are a host of other older literary characters who have their expertise, from cooking to storytelling (there are several in Dandelion Wine alone), and keep a love and excitement for life - but I had no non-literary examples to back up my dream. Do all old folks get jaded and cynical? How and why? How can I avoid it, and keep my love for life and learning and excitement? (Hell, how can I make sure to keep nurturing all those past childhood?)

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