Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Oh the places he'll go!

I said I would never do it.

Before my son was born I even wrote an essay - Waiting for Graham - in which I acknowledged that not doing it would likely be the hardest part of parenting.

And yet the entire time I was in Vancouver and missing him, I did it.

I spent my entire time away imagining and planning Graham's future for him. Every time I saw a young man I started to idly wonder if he were the kind of man Graham might become and before long I was lost in my thoughts and schemes for Graham's future and worse, my hopes and dreams for myself.

We were barely buckled into the seats in the plane when the sound of the captain's voice started me imagining a future Graham, tall and blond in his pilot's uniform. I missed the entire flight introduction because I was too busy envisioning future versions of Rob and I sitting on a plane (upgraded to first class, natch!) under his command.

Graham would lay out the flight plans for the passengers in a strong confident voice and then acknowledge the presence of a very special passenger: his mother, the woman responsible for introducing him to flying when he was just a baby.

The present-day me got all misty-eyed just thinking about it. In fact, I damn near stood up and started bowing to fellow passengers, who I imagined would be clapping and sighing with deep appreciation over what a wonderful mother I was.

And it just got worse from there.

At the Vancouver aquarium I mused to Rob about how fascinating a field I thought marine biology was. Withing seconds I lost myself in a reverie involving he and I and Graham, some 20 years on.

In my mind's eye the three of us were speeding across a choppy sea in a small boat being expertly commandeered by my handsome son. Shaggy and earnest, Graham raised his voice to be heard above the whipping winds, while Rob and I listened intently, hanging off his every word.

"I'm pretty excited about this new project I've been developing out here, Mom and Dad. I think it's a real breakthrough that will save the lives of thousands of whales."

By the time we left the aquarium that day the whole scenario had been played out countless times in my mind and was so real to me that I couldn't resist smiling magnanimously in the direction of the mother Beluga and her calf and and thinking: "You're welcome, my animal sister, you're welcome."

Clearly I needed a drink, but even the slightly dingy atmosphere of the pub we visited that night couldn't dim the limelight in which I was certain Graham would bask.

Two guys with a guitar and some bongos did such a great job on Like A Rolling Stone that Rob and I got to chatting about how Dylan's introduction of the electric guitar at the Newport Folk Festival devastated his followers who saw it as a symbolic declaration of the end of 1960s innocence.

Almost immediately my mind's eye saw a wild-haired future Graham onstage, guitar in hand, ushering in a new era of politics and music to thousands of adoring fans, while I, his manager, sat backstage atop a speaker. "Sure there might be some initial boos", I would acknowledge sagely to the gathering press. "But that's only because it takes time for great genius to be revealed".

If the young musicians in the Gastown pub were alarmed by my enthusiastic standing ovation, they didn't let on.

So, yeah, even though I said I wouldn't confuse Graham's future hopes and dreams with my own, I'm learning that's easier said than done.

I can't help but be excited about the opportunities that Graham has laid out before him, just as I know my parents were excited for me. I can't help but be thrilled by the wide range of choices he will be blessed with and proud that I will help provide them.

I can't help but be inspired by the thought of a blank slate, even if it is not mine upon which to write.

It is fruitless to try and stop fantasising about your child's future, I have determined. So I am not going to even try anymore.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go fetch Graham. He's in the next room tormenting Horace, who clearly doesn't appreciate the boy who will one day become the veterinarian responsible for eliminating all pain and suffering of cats and dogs the world over.

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32 comments:

Jen E @ mommablogsalot said...

This is too funny, I'll admit I've done it, too, but you illustrate it so beautifully here! I cannot wait to see who our children become in life... and then I kinda CAN wait, like I loathe the idea of them growing up! :P Totally schizophrenic of me I know.

kbreints said...

you are not the only one that does this. I quite often day dream about my boys when they are grown-- and then I think of how old I will be at that point, and stop-- that all has to come MUCH slower!!

ewe are here said...

I just hope I'm raising nice, happy boys and the rest falls into place....

Like maybe they'll grow up and be incredibly successful so they can support us in our old age. heh heh

caramama said...

Well, what I think is wonderful is that you aren't limiting his options. You sound like you'd be proud of him no matter what he does (because we know he is a supergenius who will do wonderful at whatever he chooses). And your image of you in the future is a proud, supportive mom. I think that's lovely!

Vered - MomGrind said...

I agree: it's unavoidable and is in fact a great fun... so I let myself do it. I trust myself ti never put pressure on them to actually fulfill these dreams.

sky girl said...

I don't see that there's anything wrong with dreaming about his future. Especially since your dreams are so varied. :)

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

This might be the Very Best Thing you've ever written about parenting. It just might be the Very Best Thing I've ever read about parenting. Playful. Significant. Deep. Light. Fun. Sensitive. Imaginative. Real. Earthy. Genius.

Jaina said...

Hey, as long as you don't try to impose those fantasies on him, I don't see any problem with letting yourself daydream. We all know Graham is going to go places, no harm in a little daydreaming in the meantime. ;) Great post.

RiverPoet said...

You have accurately captured what we mothers have always done - imagine the bright futures of our children. I can't tell you how many times I sat around imagining my daughter on a dig somewhere in Africa, a famous paleontologist discovering a new dinosaur or my son saving the life of a dog who was hit by a car.

Of course none of it turned out that way, but it was fun to imagine. Now they are dreaming their own dreams and I'm living mine. Funny how life works. I think we have to carry those dreams for them until they are old enough to start carrying out their own life plans.

Personally, I was right there with you on the pilot thing. I think you might have something there!

Peace - D

Melisa said...

It's funny, I think most people do think about what their kids might do, and although I've thought many times that my 16 yo has the negotiating skills of an attorney (it's been that way since he could talk!) and my 13 yo really *would* make a great lead guitar player for a rock band (that's what he wants to do), I don't think about other careers for them too much, even in my imagination. Am I weird? Probably.

I really just hope that they can be happy with what they do, and they make enough money to live outside of my house. (with frequent visits: lol)

Leanne said...

Yeah, I do this too. I just hope they're as equally happy as they are successful - in my day dreams.

Whitenoise said...

Yeah, but then they hit the teenage years- sleep in 'til noon and desire nothing other than pizza, text messaging and video games- and your expectations drop... a little.
;-)

Elizabeth Marie said...

I love how aware of all this you are. My parents still have yet to be able to separate their hopes/dreams/wishes from mine. Graham is very lucky to have a mom with such high aspirations for him - and the presence of thought to know that its still up to him in the end.

beth said...

I love that you have so many different visions for his possible future and seem to embrace all of them.

With that kind of encouragement to follow his own passion, he is sure to do great things.

Ashley said...

How right you are. My mom once left us (I'm a twin) when we were 2 for a weekend in Acapulco with my dad. She says she couldn't stop thinking about us the whole trip and that, really, the best part of the trip was, when they got home, we ran---galloped, rather---into her arms. And that pretty much sums it up. Children occupy every corner of our minds, so much so that a weekend without them is more a reminder that they are not there. If I'm somewhere GREAT (like San Francisco), I'm thinking my daughter is every young hipster woman with a killer job and a fiercely independent streak. It so has to do with my own personal preferences---just like Graham being a pilot! But how fun? A girl can dream...

zandor said...

Ha. That is pretty funny. It's kind of neat the things that made you think of him and what you thought.

JCK said...

I loved this, Kelly! It is so fun to let your imagination soar over our children.

SciFi Dad said...

Daydreaming is part of being a parent; you imagine conversations with your infant before they can hold their head up, you try to envision what it will be like to chase them through a park when they first start to crawl. It's normal.

(And, at least you didn't imagine him two-timing women on The Hills or something... right?)

Karen said...

I must be the totally abnormal one. I've never given much thought to my children's futures. I don't know if I'm afraid of imposing my own wishes on them, or if I can't seem to see beyond today's workload. Either way, I'll support them in whatever they do, of course, but haven't taken the initiative to dream.

That sounds like a shame.

Mara said...

I used to imagine all sorts of things for my son and I have to say he has surprised me in the years and has turned out to be a wonderful young man. Keep your dreams alive he may surprise you.

Mara
http://24stepstogo.blogspot.com/

InTheFastLane said...

And oh is it sometimes hard to realize these choices are not our own. But, they will find their place.

and btw...I got me some black boots. THANKS!

Suzie said...

That is too cute. I love the image of you on the plane taking a bow.

Laura said...

my kid is playing in the laundry bin...maybe he will work in a laundromat? Hmm. Was kind of hoping for more from him....


(this post was BRILLIANT!)

Tracey said...

It's neat to imagine, isn't it?

jennster said...

LOL- you are awesome! and i think i'm weird... i've never really imagined what blake will become when he's older. i mean, aside from the best major league catcher known to man- i have no idea what he'll do, or become, etc....

organicyogamom said...

It's funny I as thinking about expectations today as well - in a little bit of different way - but expectations all the same!
Cheers!

womaninawindow said...

I just envision my son big and silent, a quiet hand resting lovingly on his farming wife's shoulder. Feed the world, son, feed the world. I guess it all comes down to the same thing, doesn't it?

Kathleen said...

Fabulous imaginings! And so well told. Graham is going to have a field day reading this entry one day :-)

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

You've done a great job with this--this is definitely something all moms do.

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