She’s nine months and some now, and in some ways I’ve already planned part of her life for her, a fraction of the fraction for which I can reasonably and legitimately take responsibility, even as I assuredly will wane in relevance and influence in her eyes long before such period expires.
It’s natural to want the best for our children; inevitable that each of us should define that differently; inescapable that our definitions reveal more about us than our progeny. I read about Chinese Tiger mothers and I smile while equating extremist positions and inflammatory statements with savvy book-marketing strategies. I hear of litigation against an Ivy-League preparatory preschool and compel myself to remember that there are those who will roll their eyes and dismiss my values and expectations too.
And if any child’s potential is truly limitless, then details are invidious, if not outright foolish: to chart the specifics of her life now would be both antithesis and tyranny. My sentiments are broad and general. I want her to experience playing within an orchestra, to understand and find balance between individuality with its concomitant creativity and community with its inherent responsibility. I want the commonality of musical experiences to give her and her peers a true foundation for lifelong friendships. I hope that music will be a gateway for her, as it was for me, to places and experiences, geographical and philosophical, never before imagine or anticipated but never unwelcome.
And most of all, I wish her life to be one of meaningful choices – that she has the confidence and freedoms, in the many and varied senses of the word, to direct her life as she sees fit: an engineer of circumstance, rarely if never a victim of it.
And I hope, fervently, that what I want for my daughter is not immutable but an ongoing negotiation, a partnership that evolves organically as we grow together and influence each other day by day: to assume she will not change me, she will not instruct me would be a great arrogance and simultaneously a greater disservice to her and that aforementioned limitless potential.
But she’s still not going on dates until she’s 18.