As much as I speak of the infinite potential and possibility of my children's future, I suppose deep down I believe they will end up more or less like Matt and me. This is in some ways justified. My sister now teaches elementary school, following closely in the footsteps of our mother, a lifelong teacher. Though I am not engaged in formal ministry like my father, I am very drawn to roles with an emphasis on people and being a public voice for messages I find critical and compelling....the very skills I saw him exercise for years. Of course there are many, many ways our lives have departed our parents' and moved in entirely unanticipated directions, but some core values remain. (I remember my mother happily wearing hand-me-down clothes given to her from my parents' friends. Much as I wished she had nicer, more suited to her clothing, I also am quite happy shopping at a local thrift store to see what I can find.)
Last night we shared the perfect summer evening with our closest friends--chicken off the grill and pizza; homemade ice cream in cones, dripping pink down the chins and shirts of all four of our collective children; shared baths in the tub for extracting bug spray, sunscreen and sand; and hands waving into the deep blue sky as we departed under the stars. Because the kids play so well together, we can sometimes sit back and share adult conversation or indulge in one of my favorite activities--observing our children while they are oblivious to our presence and fully absorbed in being who they are. As the pajama-clad, squeaky-clean big kids sat snuggling on the coach listening to "Hurry Up, Calliou!" Lucas was on Matt's lap, fully engaged in conversation on a play cell phone. In his not-fully-formed enunciation, he rattled off word after word, tossed in a quick "Buh-bye," and then closed the phone. This particular toy is wise to kids, and is rigged to ring automatically whenever it is closed. Each time it did so, Lucas seemed genuinely surprised and obviously compelled to open and answer the phone. Over and over and over--and suddenly I had this image of my little snuggly baby on the trading floor at Wall Street. (This is enough of a stretch for his father or me that I'm not entirely certain "trading floor" is the correct phrase!) The action, the noise, the numbers--all seemed somehow in his reach in that moment of aggressively putting the phone back to his ear for yet another "sell now!" conversation with his clients--and I realized I really don't know who this child will grow to be at all.
I had a similar moment with Kyra recently--Kyra with her short hair, dirty shirts, and "eager to be a boy" attitude. I was putting her to bed when she began to rap a series of song lyrics I had never heard before. (Again, like my mother, I am barely connected to popular culture, so the most familiar of songs are often unknown to me!) In between verses of this "rap" Kyra described how she and her closest day care friend were one day going to be singing on stage....a far cry from how we typically see her, but suddenly within the reaches of my mind. When I went downstairs to search for the lyrics, I discovered my daughter at day care had learned "Wake Up" by Hilary Duff. The scraped knees, baseball bat and trucks were replaced in my mind by blue eyeshadow, red lipstick and low rise jeans....and the awkward reality of a teenaged girl trying to find her voice in the midst of all the madness around and within her. And again, I realized I don't know who either of my children will grow to be.
I am simply grateful to watch and grow myself, caught up in the surprises of their authenticity....still creating my own.