"An apple seed will never grown into an oak tree." Sandra Dodd said this yesterday in one of her talks at the Always Learning symposium in Maine.
It's a line that stood out for me because my son suggested something similar to me one night several years ago when he and I were reading stories and chatting in bed. I think Ethan was five. At the time he was very interested in rocks and minerals and the table of elements. I was telling him that he could be a geologist or a chemist when he grew up. He listened. He'd heard this kind of grand predictive thinking from me before. I was fond of telling him who he could be when he grew up, based on the interests he had at the time. After a pause, he said to me "But what if I don't want to be anything big?"I gave myself some time to let what Ethan said to me sink in before I realized what I was doing. I was not looking at and encouraging who Ethan was in the moment. Rather, I was looking off into the unknown future trying to fit Ethan to a model I was forming in my head. My predictions were making him feel uncomfortable and unsure. He was asking me to be with him in the present, to share his excitement for his interests now, and to leave the future to the future because my version of it might not be where he was meant to go.
An apple seed will never grow into an oak tree. An acorn will never grow into a tree that bears fruit. Knowing that, the most prudent thing we can do as parents is to do our very best to nurture the seed we have at every stage of growth it sees. Like Sandra said, we can stunt it's growth, break it, or damage it beyond repair by trying to make it into something it's not or failing to protect what it is at all the stages along the path of it's growth. Or we can choose to encourage and safeguard the beautiful seed we have been given from seed to seedling to full grown tree, offering it everything it needs to grow into the best version of itself it can be. - Karen James (fall 2014)