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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Red, Right, Return



Gracie Gardner's Vimeo Channel

The average contemporary human does not consider the sublime much. Life is not seen as linear --with an end -- or even circular, with an eastern repetition. In many people's mind they were never a baby and will never be old. It's a botoxed cougar world, facing off against forty year old men still dressing up like Star Wars characters.

I don't want to be sixty years old at a Coldplay concert with a girlfriend on my shoulders, thanks. I don't think it will be fun to eventually look at eternity and only have fifteen minutes of real adult behavior in your CV. And I don't want to act as if children are just short adults. I'm six-foot-two, there's plenty of short adults around already.  It's common for people to remark that they don't want to see children out in public, and old people should find an ice floe before we have to find one for you. Out of sight, out of mind. Me? I like children that act childish and babies that coo and old people if they don't say tsk too often.

Hey, there's an aphorism: Out of sight, out of mind.  "Get out of our sight, and we're out of our minds," might be more to the point nowadays. Time for  new aphorisms, I guess.

My wife and I have children. We're married to one another and stay that way. We raise the little shavers as best we can, and treat them like children, and try to prepare them to be adults so we can treat them like adults later. Maybe if we do it right they won't start picking out an ice floe for us before we're sixty.

Part of raising an adult is having respect for their opinions, at least eventually. Asking your four-year-old to pick out a color to paint their room is foolish. When you're four-years-old, decisions should be made with an appropriate amount of serendipity, and not written in stone, or at least not eggshell paint. Children need help, and eventually you're going to need help from your children in return, if for no other reason than to figure out what the hell you've been put on this earth for when your time's up.

You have to protect your children from touching the stove, it's true; but sooner or later they're going to get older, and they'll find themselves in a room with a hot stove, and they're going to have to cook if they want to eat. How do you prepare your kids properly for modern life? Beats me. Maybe the simple fact that you try is where the success is hidden. It's all quality time, if you ask me. Hey, that would make a nifty newage aphorism.  I often tell my wife, I'm a bad father, but I am a father, and take pride in not receiving an incomplete, never mind an "F". Minus.

You can give your kids rules of thumb to navigate the world by. Aesop's Fables. Red, Right, Return. Aphorisms. Eventually, they'll grow up and make their own, and if you do your job right, maybe they'll surprise and charm the hell out of you, considering what a world full of hot stoves we just handed them.

12 comments:

Andy said...

I don't know about when they grow up - yet - but when they're three years old they constantly surprise and charm the hell out of you. Or mine do for me, anyway.

My girl loves to stand on her Sippican Stepper at the stove while I cook. She pours the pasta in the water, she stirs with her favorite yellow spatula - wait, it's Thursday? Blue is her favorite. Sometimes I have to leave the kitchen.

There's your aphophoric metarism: You're always cooking, but sometimes you have to leave the kitchen in the middle of it.

julie said...

Oops - one of the aphorisms that should be taught these days if one is going to put an instructional video out on the intertunnels ought to be, "One must always keep in mind that a spell checker is an invaluable tool." Otherwise, your video is only talking about things that are imporant, not important...

As to the rest, well, yes - just so.

SippicanCottage said...

Andy- I'd kill for another copy of that picture of your daughter brushing her teeth while standing on her stepper. I'm two hard-drive failures downstream from the original.

Hi Julie- Cute kid. Quick, tell him something wise.

Don't look at me, I'm no help.

julie said...

:D

Don't know that I'm much help, either. But one of these days I'll get a picture of him using his stepper. He's walking now, so it shouldn't be long...

Gary said...

Another good one.
I don't want to live in Maine if it's any colder than Ohio (I am pretty sure it is) but I think it would great to have you as a neighbor (not that I don't have good neighbors here.)
As someone who deals every day with the meaning of life (because mine is close to over), I have to say that I wish my thoughts on the subject were as clear as yours.
Thank goodness I did some things right (like stay married, work hard and treat my friends and family--mostly--like I ought to).
It's hard enough letting go when you feel like you had a good, if shorter than average, run and did an OK job of it. How people who threw away all their chances for happiness and to do something worthwhile face that undiscovered country is beyond me.
Keep writing and I'll keep reading as long as I'm allowed to. I enjoy the conversation, even if it's mostly one way.

Johnny Glendale said...

The Lad (6 years old) gave me the world for my birthday this morning. OK, it was a cardboard-and-plastic globe from his room, but he was totally on board with the symbolism. Sometimes I think we're doing an OK job.

Andy said...

Put the knife back in your boot, Sipp, I can send you another anon.

John Hinds said...

@Gary, Maybe the meaning of life is bound up in the unending search for meaning. Ever think that discovery IS the action of the unknown? The philosopher Soren Kierkegaard famously said that God stands before us with outstretched hands. The hands are closed. In one he offers the answer to all the ultimate questions. The other offers the unending search for those answers. Which is wise to choose? Maybe he should be allowed his greatest secrets for himself.

Andy said...

Blogger got weird the last day or so, eh?

thehawkreturns said...

"Red, right, return, wrong"

Nautical.

SippicanCottage said...

Hi Andy- Yes, Blogger freaked right out for 24 hours. It erased and restored this post. There was some talk on their help page about restoration of comments, later, but I think they might be gonzo.

Hi Hawkreturns- Yes, following buoys home.

thehawkreturns said...

"following buoys home"....

not the way I prefer to recall things!