Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"my name is sage alfar"

That is how my five year old daughter began her speech at her graduation ceremony last Saturday, on a huge stage, addressing the attentive audience which included her stunned (and nearly in tears) father.

We were told that she was going to read her speech (which, really, was quite complex) but she went up there and delivered it straight from memory. Only part of me was listening; I was more entranced by the fact that Sage was up there and struck again and again by the fact that she was growing up.

I think I am fast approaching that bittersweet time when parents begin to fool themselves with the notion that they can know their children's destiny. I can imagine her as a public speaker, as a creative, as a photographer, as an artist, as a writer, as a business owner, as this and that and more. The serious flaw in this mode of thought is that it neglects my daughter's own ambitions. It is too easy to dream on her behalf - I have all of the parents who ever lived on my side, telling me that it's all right to do so because she doesn't know any better, and that it is my responsibility to push her towards something, some career or craft, that will bring her financial stability and happiness in the future. But I realized for myself that a parent's dreams are not necessarily what a child wants, that forcing one's dreams on someone else is a losing proposition. The best scenario is to live vicariously through her own choices, be there to advise, and hope for the best.

This does not mean I'll be completely hands off, certainly not. As her father there are many things within my control. But when it comes to the big ones when she comes of age, I will not force her choices to align with mine.

I know its too early and perhaps too optimistic to say these things, but I believe that we create our own happiness and that we are masters of our individual lives.

Last week though, as I watched her speak onstage with confidence and grace, I permitted myself to be enveloped by her myriad possibilities, wiping away the tears of pride and delight from my eyes.

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