Some days, I sit by and physically go out and watch the world, and other days I watch the television. Both provide me with flashes of childhood and adulthood, insight and regret. I might catch a glimpse of small child, say about three, struggling with a parent, unsure of where they were going, but having some unknown blind intent declaring not to go the way of urging. The parent, in the midst of trying to reason with the child, is sure of where they are headed, a clear purpose in mind.
This scenario always makes me pity the child.
Pity my own childhood. The lost time of intentional purpose.
The type of purpose that lasts a lifetime, and is your ultimate goal. I look at the average lifetime expectancy for members of my family, which is roughly 76 years. I spent nearly 24% of this time as a child, a minor by law. I didn't get a real sense of who I am and what I want to do until I hit 30. I realize that for each person this number varies, but it is still staggering to me, and I will say, grossly unfair.
In all honesty, I would have been happier to have a more focused childhood. I don't always think we are doing our young a favor letting them live day to day. I do believe at some point, maybe when they hit 10 and 11, that we could start to focus them a bit more. Whether it be towards the arts, or science, anything but just living day to day without a larger picture in mind. I know the argument could be made that we are indeed giving them a larger picture in mind. A larger picture of just becoming an adult and living as a "good" person, but I feel that is innate within most of us anyway. I know my parents were not good teachers of living as good people, and I still have managed to figure it out for the most part without them.
Why aren't we inspiring big picture thinking in our kids? Especially pre-teens, when it comes to life? I'm not talking career goals necessarily, but at least a general focus on a particular interest. Their brain cells are double and tripling during this time, this is the prime time to expose them to this type of thinking! This is the time for that self discovery that helps form pathways and interests to a truly productively full life. I know it was during this time I glanced onto writing much by accident, and if it hadn't been for all the shit I caught from friends and family for what I was writing, and instead maybe some focused guidance, I might have started the journey of authorship a lot sooner, and more successfully. Additionally, I would have found my spot in the Universe and the comforts that go witht hat realization a lot sooner as well.
I do not agree that letting "children be children" is good enough. We are not robbing our youth of happy memories and childhood experiences by encouraging them to think ahead. I'm not talking about the ridiculous nature of dance schedules, sporting schedules, and band practice. I do agree there is an issue with parents trying to get their kids to do too much. I'm talking about a common interest and start focusing them early on it. It isn't hard to pick up early on what truly gets your child's attention. It isn't hard to see what is a passing fad and what is a common thread in their minds.
A great example would be that of my eldest son. He's 12 and has an intense interest in design and creative arts. Everything from building Lego projects to wanting to learn how to go about forging ancient style weapons. His fascination for the creation of things is astounding. You can never go wrong buying him a book with illustrated examples of Steampunk themed creations or a visual encyclopedia of weaponry from the Stone Age to Present. He literally wears those books out, trying to understand how they were created. He has been like this since he could crawl. As soon as he was able to get out of his bouncer, he was crawling around it, and literally disassembled one before the age of 1. Did the same thing with many of his toys. It wasn't until he was about 8 or 9 that I realized it wasn't so much an engineering interest, but actually liking to create mechanisms of enjoyment. Didn't have to have a purposeful use, he was more into the art and aesthetics. So, we are following along, keeping him tuned into that. Everything else has faded by, but the art remains in his intentions in everything he does.
Yes, he'll probably be a comic book guy with a side fancy for gadgets to compliment cosplay. In all seriousness. Hollywood artist is probably where he'll end up, and that is awesome. Like myself, he sees the value in creation. It's your ultimate thumbprint on the world.
Yes, I'm a little pissed about how unfocused my childhood was. It didn't help I had very selfish parents to begin with either, but it seems like a double burn to me at times. If you don't already actively help your child think big picture, it is never too late to start. Trust me, your encouragement will be cherished in the long run, and I believe it will provide even more fond appreciation for growing up within your child's reflections when an adult.