There’s a new movie out called “The Odd Life of Timothy Green.”
And in it, a childless couple writes down all the qualities they would want a child of theirs to have. Then they bury the character traits in the garden. And then that perfect child grows out of the soil.
Man, I wish we had done that.
This kid’s got everything they want – he’s honest to a fault, Picasso with a pencil, and he never gives up. Not to mention he showed up walking, talking and is clearly already past the pre-school age, sparing them tuition and 5 years of bake sales.
But come on. Where’s the fun in that?
I don’t want my kids to be honest to a fault. I just posted a new Facebook picture of myself because my 6-year-old told me I looked 16 in it. But then I showed him a picture of when I was actually 16, and he said I looked 76. I liked it better when he just said “yes” anytime Daddy said, “Doesn’t Mommy look pretty?”
And how else am I gonna hone my inner lie-detector if my kids are telling the truth all the time? Half the fun in life is trying to bust them in a lie – then giving them a chance to come clean, watching them weigh the consequences while they quiver and their eyes fill with tears. It’s part of my day.
Picasso with a pencil? No thanks. As I write this, there is a purple ceramic frog with blue eyes and green feet sitting on my desk. Hanging over it is a crayon drawing of a Cyclops, a storyboard for a video game, and a portrait of me with no neck and no hands. What’s more fun than your kid handing you artwork and you have to ask, “What is it?”
Oh, and the couple also wrote “scores the winning goal” on their list, which we all know only happens to other people – like getting to be president and winning the lottery.
And while I love the notion of not giving up, it would completely rob me of one of our main parental responsibilities. It’s our full-time job to encourage our children to keep trying, don’t give up, do your best, and work toward a goal. Or at least pretend.
So yeah, we all have a vision for the perfect child. Athletic, optimistic, honest and talented – to be sure. But if he just shows up that way, where is the learning? To me, it’s not enough to know how to do it all right. They need to know why it’s important. And to see what happens and how it feels when they do it wrong. The growth is in the learning, not just the garden.
Besides – if our kids are perfect, what exactly are we going to do all day?