On Children


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a figment of your imagination
On Children

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, Speak to us of Children.
And he said:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,
and though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;

For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

9 - 1883-1931
From The Prophet (Knopf, 1923)
At 36 years old...fairly set in the lives of dinks (double income no kids) we went to the beach or parks or resorts and took our vacations the week before AND the week after school was in session.

And then we had kids... there are so many books on parenting there are essentially none. They contradict each other and it all gets lost in the hay stack.

This is the second gift I give new parents, framed for the wall of their bedroom or master bath to be contemplated daily. Because at 36 we had twins and my life became a mission to prepare them for their life. After not hacking college I moved out by hitchhiking 3000 miles. Ready or not I released myself from that bow. So I focused on preparing themselves for that release.

I found out how useful that bow was coaching 10 year old girls soccer. I did all the training at practice. At the games, I let them loose on the field. I would talk to those on the bench and have them report every mistake of the person they were to replace...and then not make the same mistake when they go in. And as they left the bench and entered the field... I released that arrow. I had my back to the field most of the game...having the girls psyche themselves into doing better than the girl they replaced. I chuckled under my breath as they heard other coaches scream at girls on the while I just let my arrows fly.

It meant a lot to me as a new parent. It meant a lot to me when my kids headed out to live on their own. We talked from the time they were young preparing their minds for that day. Another lucky happenstance...i picked up The Prophet...it had been on the shelf for years. And opened and read "On Children" within a week of bringing my twins home.
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