Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Today, while writing about the role of prologue in memoir for Handling the Truth, I stopped to re-read my own prologue to Seeing Past Z: Nurturing the Imagination in a Fast-Forward World, the book I wrote about the power and place of the imagination in children. I had wanted, I had written about my then-nine-year-old son, wisdom over winning. I had wanted him to channel his talents toward passions of his own choosing. I'd wanted happiness for him, room for his own dreams.
It strikes me now, as I read these words, that my boy grew up into the man I had fervently hoped he would be. He has everything I'd wanted for him—moral wisdom, deep joy, remarkable friendships, an extraordinary education, a career he cannot wait to seize, and a habit that still sits him down at a desk to write whatever he wants to write, when other pressures ease. He remains my trusted reader, my confidante, the guy who always asks, no matter how busy he is, So how are you doing today, Mom?
He'll graduate on Mother's Day, and while that seems (to me) to be right and good, it is also important, on this day, to feature this image, above, made by my son's father, who is also my husband, who loves this kid just as much as I do. The image is, of course, one of two in a series, the first of which I showcased yesterday.
I want to raise my son to pursue wisdom over winning. I want him to channel his passions and talents and personal politics into rivers of his choosing. I’d like to take the chance that I feel it is my right to take on contentment over credentials, imagination over conquest, the idiosyncratic point of view over the standard-issue one. I’d like to live in a world where that’s okay.Some call this folly. Some make a point of reminding me of all the most relevant data: That the imagination has lost its standing in classrooms and families nationwide. That storytelling is for those with too much time. That winning early is one bet-hedging path toward winning later on. That there isn’t time, as there once was time, for a child’s inner life. That a mother who eschews competition for conversation is a mother who places her son at risk for second-class citizenry.Perhaps. But I have this boy with these two huge dark eyes who thinks and plays and speculates. I have a boy who is emergent and hopeful, intuitive and funny, somewhere between childhood and adolescence. How will he define himself as the years unfold? What will he claim as his own? What will he craft of the past? What will he do with what he thinks, make of what he dreams, invent out of the stuff of all his passions? It is my right—it is my obligation, even—to sit with him for a while longer, imagining tomorrow.