In Annie Dillard’s Teaching a Stone to Talk, she writes, speaking of her husband and herself,
We teach our children one thing only, as we were taught: to wake up. We teach our children to look alive there, to join by words and activities the life of human culture on the planet’s crust. (22)
It got me thinking about what I want to teach my children.
Tritia and I recently married (Nov. 15th, 2015). While we’re in no rush, we both want children in the next few years. There is never a time when you’re “ready,” the platitude goes, but we’re as ready as we’ll ever be. Now in our early 30s, with my military service and our college educations behind us (for the time being), at the beginning of our careers, and having sailed a tumultuous ocean on the relationship front, we’re eager for the next adventure.
We want to pass on our morals, values, and experiences to our children, and provide guidance for their lives. It’s easy to get swept up in that, though. I have seen people with children and have found that, for some of them, their children have become their entire lives. In other words, the parents’ adventures have ceased. They pour their hearts into their children’s wellbeing, but I wonder… How much can parents offer their child if their own adventures have stopped?
Of course, I’m on the outside looking in, and perhaps the parents’ adventures continue in moonlit moments after the kids have fallen asleep, adventures tucked into silent kisses before heads hit pillows, or clasped between warm palms and interlaced fingers before the alarm goes off and the day starts over again…
Whether these adventures are real, or are evasions of the fact that the real adventures stopped in favor of the children, I won’t claim certainty, because the relationship isn’t mine.
No matter the fate of Tritia’s and my adventures once we’ve had our first child, I know that I want to “teach our children one thing only[:] to look alive there, to join by words and activities the life of human culture on the planet’s crust.” I’m thinking I’ll commission a small, wooden sign, with this quote engraved in it, to hang securely above our child’s crib, where it will hopefully serve as a reminder to his parents to lead by example and continue the adventure, always.
Dillard, Annie. “Total Eclipse.” Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters. Annie Dillard. 9-28. New York: HarperPerennial, 1992. Print.
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