There is a poignant article in this past Sunday's New York Times on the joy and disappointment of being a parent. It is a mother's brief memoir describing her relationship with her quixotic son who has once again changed his mind about his life calling. He has decided that he no longer wants to become a motorcycle mechanic but a tattoo artist:
DISAPPOINTMENT clogged my throat. How could he change his mind again? And then I turned the disappointment inward. Stupid me; I'd actually allowed myself to get excited about this, his motorcycle certification. Granted, a motorcycle mechanic son may not sound like nirvana to some parents. But in our case, I felt it was Alex's best chance for a "career" and to become self-supporting.
Alex has spent most of his life poking, pushing and prying open commonly accepted norms of behavior in hopes of finding a place for himself. Ever since he was old enough to race his tricycle down the sidewalk with such abandon that neighbors grabbed their children out of his way, Alex has been living life on his own terms.
As a father, I try not to make my dreams my children's dreams; but it is a Sisyphian task. I particularly enjoyed the author's thought experiment regarding her son:
I tried to imagine what it was like for the family of Arnold Schoenberg to appreciate his atonal music, which, to many at the time, sounded like air horns and geese honking and drove some hearers to riot. And who in Jackson Pollock's family could have foreseen that when he dripped his paints across a canvas on the floor he would become a famous abstract expressionist?