Projecting onto our Kids Part 2

When I was 12, my family hosted a family from India for
supper and we had bread and butter (along with other food) and these people PUT
BUTTER ON THEIR BREAD. As in, my mom had to keep running back to the fridge for
butter refills because they smeared so much on the bread.  I was thinking, don’t they know that they are
one pat away from clogging their arteries entirely?

Years later we hosted a Russian family who kept belching at
the table, while my family refused to look each other in the eye in case we would
start snickering.

Then, when I was fourteen years old a Moldavian Pastor gave
me the gift of a watermelon.  I held the
watermelon and (being fourteen) thought He
gave me a melon, oh my word, this is the funniest thing ever,
and burst out
laughing. Keep in mind he was a pastor that had served a prison sentence for
having faith in Jesus.  I’m sure my
parents would have liked to disown me that day. Looking back I would like to disown myself.

And yes all these awkward experiences I would like to pass
along to my children.  The knowledge that
there are thousands of different people in the world, and they are just
that.  Not better or weirder, or cooler,
or wrong, just different.

The other day while I was sitting at my kitchen table
surrounded by friends, talking about schooling options, and why and where we
send our kids to school.  I mentioned
something about me and Gene both having a good experience in High School (not
together of course) and wanting that for our children.

After they left, remnants of the conversation stuck in head.  Why do I assume that anything that served me
well, will serve my child well?  I am
using an argument that I hate!  Why do I
want to duplicate every life-changing experience into the life of my child?
Every good thing, every shaping incident I had, I want to repackage for my

One of my biggest goals and values has been for my children
to experience cross-cultural challenges.
The kind of differences that I feel impacted my life more than anything.  Meeting somebody that is so different than
you it’s like: WHOE…that is so different
is it even right
? kind of differences.

Well, we live in a farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  We travel to Ohio every few months, to be
with my family. Sometimes in the winter we go to Florida.  The cross-cultural challenges of my dreams have
not been happening around here.

So let’s
hypothetically say that Elena wants to get married straight out of High
School.  That could be a bitter pill for
me to swallow. (My issue!)  I’ve idolized
experiences, and “getting out”, and education and travel.

I don’t know what action you could base yourself worth on, as a parent.  <–That
sentence is not pretty.  I’m obviously
unveiling an issue of mine.

However, in my “dream family” my kids are hunkered down in
Calcutta eating rice with their fingers, and hanging out in the leper

Oh, that’s not a lot of pressure to put on kids is it?

Right now my children pretty much run around the house
pretending they are Superman, and make hundreds of hand-colored cards every day.  On our 40 acres of farm land they choose to
run around the carpet inside the house.
I wonder how my dreams for them are going to intersect with their
reality.  I wonder if my dreams for them
are really just extensions of dreams for myself.

Projecting onto our Kids Part 1

My mom spent a lot of time while I was in grade school,
trying to convince me to wear saddle shoes.
I thought saddle shoes were dumb, and refused to wear them.

As it turns out, when she was a girl in the 50’s saddle
shoes were all the rage, and being Amish, she wasn’t allowed to wear them.  Way to pin your old dreams onto me mom!

And yet, who thinks that every child will be thrilled from
head to toe with a new book? Me, yes me.
Who wants our little family to spend evening’s together sitting on the
couch reading our respective books?  Me

Who thinks this is a bit ridiculous, and that it is not
quality family time? Yes, my children’s father.

The point is, the things I love, my own dreams, I am passionate about bringing
those same things into the lives of my children.

The things Gene loves and has good memories of, I am not so
passionate about bringing into the lives of our children.  We also don’t have a huge overlap in fond

Gene has good memories when he was a boy of lying on the
floor and watching fish swim around in his parent’s 30 gallon fish tank.  He learned about guppies this way.

I first learned about guppies by reading Henry Huggins, by
Beverly Cleary. (If you’re interested, Henry buys a couple of guppies and they
reproduce like crazy, and he fills all his mother’s canning jars with guppies,
which is fine until his mother needs to do some preserving. It’s an old-school
book; part of the charm)

So, Gene wants to buy a fish tank for our family.  Not a small tank though, a gigantic tank that
needs its own special cabinet to hold its weight.  I would rather buy Henry Huggins.

So while our children are busy developing their own
interests, Gene and I try to sway each of them to buy into our ideas of what constitutes
a happy childhood.

This could get interesting yet.

To you parents that have walked on the tightrope of blending
two parents together into one harmonious unit, I nod my head to you.  You have my respect, because it is not easy.