My two daughters are young women now and when I look at where they are in their lives, I wonder how I was any part of their talents and accomplishments. Of course, I’ve owned many titles over their lifetimes: nurturer, caregiver, homework enforcer, cab driver, lunch maker, bad guy who made rules and curfews and the volunteer-for-any-job-in-elementary-school-just-because role. But I look for things they might have inherited from me, something genetic that could have contributed to what they do now. And I struggle to find it.
My younger child has been offered a special opportunity to work toward her Master’s degree this fall. Tuition free. Her undergrad scholarships covered all of her tuition during those years. She was a member of seven honor societies, graduated summa cum laude and her resumé reads as if she’s been in the work force for decades. How is she my child?
She is a visual artist, as well. Her artistic abilities amaze me and while I love all of her work, my favorites will always be her cartoons. She can create on paper, bringing to life all of these wonderful characters. It’s certainly not anything I can do.
My older daughter is a musician. She began playing the violin in first grade and took lessons until she graduated from high school. The violin was chosen for two reasons: 1) we didn’t own a piano at the time and, 2) we had a neighbor who rented string instruments to schools for their orchestra programs. We rented a tiny violin for our daughter and she took off, never looking back.
Lessons via The Suzuki Method started and lasted for a few years. By the way, if you don’t think it’s possible for young children to perform music by the classical composers such as Bach, Handel and Mozart, then find a Suzuki School recital and go to it. You’ll be amazed.
Traditional lessons followed, as did concerts, youth orchestras, ensemble groups and fiddle instruction. One of my fondest memories is when she played the role of “The Fiddler” in Fiddler on the Roof during her high school years. She didn’t play from the orchestra pit; she was up on the rooftop on stage, dressed like a man (including beard). And I loved it. Today, she continues to play gigs around the Chicago area and I continue to marvel at her musical abilities, as she didn’t inherit them from me.
So I wonder. I was a good student, but I had to study, and I was far from brilliant. I started out as an art major in college and abandoned that career path due to an unfortunate experience. Looking back, it was probably a sound decision, as I see the talent my youngest possesses…talent that eluded me. As for the musical inability...I took classical guitar lessons for a while, regretting much later that I didn’t continue. I felt it important that my daughter play an instrument, thus the music lessons. But I have no talent for it.
Perhaps I’ve been pursuing dreams through my kids…some people do it. Although, my daughters have never been forced to do these things. They continued along their paths because they chose to do so and they felt good about what they were doing. And I continue along my own, wondering how in the world either one of them are a part of me. The incubator idea is strong during these times.