The Edge of Reason
April 2, 2015
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I wonder whose brain my son’s will resemble. Understandably he will become his own person, but will he excel with ease academically like his father, or will he encounter years of struggle as I did? Illiterate through the fourth grade and a poor reader for decades after, I wonder if my son inherited my deficits. Similar to my experience with reading, I spent my afternoons meeting with teachers in order to minimally understand mathematics. Unnecessary embarrassment prevented me from achieving success in remedial classes; I opted for mediocrity at best in regular ones. This among other obstacles helped form who I am and the approach I take to pushing through barriers. I cannot say that every outcome resulted in pride for myself and loved ones; much of the time failure and disappointment were more reliable expectations. Now on the other end of such obstacles I consider the path I wish for my son.
It seems a trap of parenthood is envisioning the great future of offspring, living out unrealized dreams and ambitions. Parents can wish for the elements of greatness: intelligence, charm, perseverance; as though such traits magically manifest themselves in a being; as though outcomes are determined within our fibers in the absence of the external world’s influences. Perhaps it’s an empathic fear of short-term pain taking up residence in the best piece of ourselves.
What to expect of my son? I want for him the same character and strength as many parents over, but I don’t wish him happiness. Rather I wish him things in my control that hopefully will provide for him moments of fulfillment and accomplishment. I am not sure what equates a path to success or the components of him filling the shoes of a worthwhile member of society capable of leaving the world a better place with each step. I’m not even sure where to start, except that I try to step with purpose, so the waves of life don’t wash away the entirety of my imprints. But, I also don’t want my son to be forever reinforcing my foot’s outline behind me. I want him to grow and learn, and maybe step further away from the water’s edge.