From what I can tell, most parents raise their children to do activities that interest the parent. This small fact is often overlooked by society as a whole and parents across the nation. Its an easy way to bond with your child and can often produce star athletes (Tiger Woods). But this trend can also produce child stars who’s story of adulthood sounds vaguely like the Titanic’s romance with the iceberg.
I hope dearly that as the years pass by I can maintain my composure to find the activities that my child(ren) like(s) to do. I enjoy shooting guns. Would I like her to grow up and enjoy doing so as well? Sure, but I don’t want to wind up cramming shooting down her throat if its not something she’s into.
A few years back I actually witnessed a kid that was showing some early interest and talent in drumming. Actually had a little bit of rhythm. But both my brother and I, as we observed this, knew it was doomed from the start. You see, the boy’s father was a college baseball player and later became a coach after graduation. Now, in the manner that we forecasted, the boy plays baseball regularly. Don’t take this as being judgmental. Given the circumstances I don’t think there was any other path for the kid to follow. And that is simply the general way of the world.
What spurred this line of thought occurred today during my usual saturday events. For nearly the last two months now, with exceptions, I have been routinely heading to Hoodoo Brewery for lunch where Lane’s Quickie Tacos has been set up. I munch on some delicious street tacos and down a pint, then its off to the rock wall to get some climbing in. The names and faces accompanying me change each time. Sometimes its my friends that came up to Alaska with me, sometimes its guys from my platoon. This particular time, a few of the guys from the platoon were with me, and as we entered the outdoor rec building we noticed a few people on the wall already. No big deal. I typically enjoy having the wall to myself, save the people I’m with, as it makes it easier to do whatever I feel and I don’t have to wait or trip over anyone. But, despite that feeling, I am none-the-less a courteous climber and develop a bit of sense of community with anyone actually spending their saturday to enjoy the same activity as me.
One particular climber caught my eye, however. A little girl, no more than 7 years old was there with her mother. It wasn’t the first time I had seen children climb the wall, but this was certainly the most enthusiastic of any of them. As we first threw on our shoes and harnesses, she was already ascending the easiest path. I tried not to seem like I was watching as began doing a little bit of bouldering (climbing without being belayed by a person with a rope). She was tearing through the path like nobodies business. Until the point I heard, “Mama, I want to come down!”. This happens, even with adults. You hit a point where you feel there is no where else to go and a slight panic sets in and you just have no choice but to reset from the beginning. The part that caught my concern is that the little girl, despite prompting from her mother wouldn’t let go of the wall to descend. She seemed stuck, and as a parent I felt it a necessary duty to try to help. I attempted to tie in as quickly as possible and get one of my guys on belay, but as fast as I could tie the knot the girl had managed to compose herself and was essentially crawling back down the wall. It was heart warming to see this small child succeed and be completely ecstatic about going back up again. This was certainly a girl that WANTED to do what her mother was involved with.
The mother of course noticed that we had observed her child climbing, and had taken interest in her well being, which in turn struck up a small conversation. She mentioned that it will probably be a slightly boring day for her as she was there with just her daughter and therefore had no one to belay her. Being the generous, community minded person I am, I found myself offering to belay as we were an odd man out at the moment anyways. An offer kindly accepted a few times throughout our climbing session. However, most of her time there was consumed with this over-eager little girl who wanted to spend every moment on the wall. This child had begun before we arrived, and continued to climb after we had left, begging her mother for one more time about 5 times in a row.
I can only hope that one day, I find what my daughter enjoys so much that she can do it with this much enthusiasm. That if its not rock climbing, I don’t push it on to her to the point she resents it. That if she doesn’t enjoy shooting guns, I can realize it and find something she does like. That I can be the supportive father that she deserves. But as far as climbing goes, I don’t think that will be a problem.
(My daughter climbing onto a water jug that is half the size of her. I had to hold the jug to keep it from going over on her, but she fearlessly hung out on the edge of it long enough for this picture to be taken.)