A while ago now, probably a few weeks ago, when the walk into the town centre and back didn’t seem too arduous to attempt on my own, I had a mid-walk idea. The idea that I wanted to compile a list of skills, concepts, ideas, strategies, and knowledge of all kinds that I feel are important for living a healthy, happy, purposeful life. And then find the resources, the teachers, and the methods so that I can offer all of this to my child as he grows.
Like every other parent, I imagine, I want to create the space for him to become better than me. And a really important first step in that seems, to me, to be a willingness to admit and embrace how radically imperfect I am, and how utterly inappropriate and inadequate I am to teach him certain very important things.
Don’t get me wrong: I do, in fact, feel very capable of providing him with a thorough and holistic education – to the point that I intend to ‘home school’, for a few years at least, to offer him the kind of education and preparation for the outside world that I don’t personally feel conventional schooling offers right now. BUT that isn’t because I think I know everything he needs to know. It’s because I know I don’t. And I’m really excited to find the people who do, and then either learn from them myself, or take him directly to them in one way or another.
Okay, so he hasn’t even made it out of the womb yet, but I don’t think it’s ever too early (or, indeed, too late) to start thinking about this stuff. Not only because this is the kind of stuff that lights me up, but because learning and developing is a lifelong pursuit. From birth to death, we make progress in some direction, and to be intentional about our direction undoubtedly magnifies our progress.
As a parent, I see it as my job to provide a structure and support system that guides him, while allowing him to choose his own direction as soon as he becomes able to in any particular arena. It’s an art and a science, just like all aspects of life. I can’t know how it’s all going to look, really, yet. I’ve never done this before. But I know I’m going to keep trying my damnedest not to fuck it up, and I trust that that determination and the foundations I’ve created in becoming a pretty competent human being will see us through.