My idealism has little to do with my life as a teacher, where I aim to try to teach my kids how to think in regard to their opinions about life, about their tastes, and about the individual responsibility they hold to learn things about the world. This is totally separate from teaching them truths about what is right and what is wrong. It is their parents' job to plant those seeds. My job to try to lead them toward what is safe and healthy while they are in my charge during school hours (at the very least).
My knowledge of the shortcomings of this world often trump my idealistic side--which is where a sharply cynical view sometimes causes me to be too negative. I pray I'll continually work to find some sort of balance when in a couple of weeks, I will have the official title and responsibilities of LIFELONG PARENT.
As a mother, I undoubtedly want Levi to know The Truth, but I don't want to write about this here and now. Here's what I will write: I want Levi to be able to discover his views on certain subjects independent of the strong opinions of his mother and father as much as I'd like him to know that many of our opinions are well-informed (and frankly, are good opinions at least according to our perspectives.) I know there will be things he carries with him his entire life that he got from us, but I want to give him the chance to do his thing and possibly teach us as well. I don't know if to this day I never stick my finger into a cake and lick off the sweetness because my mother's opinion on such actions has never left me. I do know that her opinion is the one I too hold and whether it's because of my memory of the look on her face upon perpetrating such actions inhibits my curious finger from sampling frostings, or because I've made a conscious adult choice to agree with her, or if a mix of both have caused me to steer clear of acting impulsively at least in regard to this specific activity. This is a silly tie-in, but I wanted to illustrate the potential power of a parent's suggestion.
I want Levi to be able to take his thoughts with ours and come up with a good sense of what he wants to be and what he wants to do. I know he'll stick his finger into cakes and I know I'll make a face about it accompanied by some words. But when he makes much more important choices and expressions of thought, I want to listen to his perspective when and if he thinks things like rock and roll, or animals, or Shakespeare or TV are wastes of time. If he has an opinion about something he likes or dislikes, then I want to see what and why he thinks it, if he'll let me. I picture a far-into-the-future conversation: "Tell me kid, if
Again, I'm not talking about his relationship to the Righteous Path here. I'm talking simply about what he chooses to spend his time on. One might call what I'm talking in circles about here "hobbies". If he wants to make music (oh how we'd love that), then let's do it. If he wants to make quilts, work really hard to lay down the groundwork for providing for his family once he grows up, or take anything else God has given him in some unique way and run with it, then let's do it all if we can. My thoughts on this matter spill beyond my role as a mother since I am also a wife, daughter, friend, estranged friend (to at least one), and family member. If you have been divinely gifted with some sort of talent or positive compelling notion, then it's apparent to me that you should act accordingly if you can and if your heart drives it. This goes for Levi, Aaron, mothers, mothers-in law, and all other intelligent creatures whom I know or even many whom I don't.
By now you know that I communicate with heavy use of examples. Here goes another. I'm the wife to a husband who was made in the image of God FOR ME. Part of what made me notice that he was special years ago was his God-given gift of speaking to the world via his natural capacity to create music. Maybe Aaron's "rock and roll life is over" now that he's the major provider for our family, but the need for his gifts to pore over creation have not and will never diminish as far as I'm concerned. He needs to make music and the world needs for him to, so he will keep doing it in whatever way is practical. I realize my biased standpoint in this matter, but I feel that this example speaks to others who feel compelled to have opinions and inclinations that have caused them to make the world better for one person or for one hundred persons. If you question why you do something, then think about what makes you do it. If you've made one unique positive change for yourself and for someone else, then maybe you should keep doing it. I'm glad you're doing it, because I'll do something else. Aaron will do another thing and Levi will maybe do something different. Let's do it all and if it's good, then let's be glad.
"Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do...Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom." (There's what I mean in a more succinct way than anything I could ever think or write.)