I was sitting in my friend’s house recently and her son came up and said “look mommy, a penny.”
She smiled and said “that’s right, and who is that?” pointing to the face on the penny.
“That’s President Abraham Lincoln mommy.”
She looked at me and laughed.
“History teacher’s kid,” as she pointed to her son and shrugged.
It got me thinking about how I parent. I wondered if people could look at my kids and say “Yep, that’s a biology teacher’s kid?” or “That’s Mr. Train’s boy for sure.”
I know that the things I am passionate about come out while I am parenting my children. Mr. Train and I are, for lack of a better word, nerds. I studied the life sciences and focused on animals and evolution. Mr. Train is a computer programmer. He loves Star Wars, science fiction and computer games. As I look at our children I can see little pieces of us rubbing off on them. I am finding it very interesting to see which of our interests they are picking up as their own.
When coming up with things for us to do together, I naturally tend to pick things that I enjoy as well or things that I am familiar with. We have passes to our local zoo and I love to see the excitement in their eyes as they look at animals and ask questions about their characteristics. When looking at a male pheasant with my son, I found myself talking to him about bird evolution. I told him that female birds often pick the brightest male bird to be their husband so that all their babies would have bright colors too. I admit it is a crude explanation of sexual selection, but realistically I am still talking to a 3 year old.
I have taken my kids to the marine mammal center that I volunteered at for several years. I loved telling them about my time there. When I told them that I used to hold the elephant seals so they could be fed, they were so excited that I had touched them. I loved sharing that piece of me and my past with them. Their Aunt Wendy still works there and took them around. Now when they play with their stuffed seals, they talk about making their seals better like Aunt Wendy and mommy did. Last evening they spent 30 minutes before bedtime pretending to be sea lion rescuers and a veterinarian.
Although animal science was a big part of my life, it’s not the only interests I share with my kids. I can tell that my older son is not as big of a fan of the museums and science talk, but I have found something else that we both love. We love to sing. I sang in choir throughout my school years and now I sing with my kids. I used music to calm my kids down when they were very young. I still sing them a lullaby at night. Now music is James’ favorite thing in school. His teachers have often commented about how enthusiastic he is with singing. When we come home in the car together, we sing as loud as we can to whatever song he wants. His favorite song right now is Go Tell it on the Mountain. Sometimes he picks the radio station and he picks up on the words in the chorus so that he can sing along, with but usually he sticks with his favorite songs from school.
I love to cook and craft as well. I think all my kids have had a good time with the crafts and activities we have done together. Every day we color and do some simple crafts, but I try to do one big messy craft once a week. They pretty much ask me every day if they can do an art project. The boys have also really taken to helping me in the kitchen. If I could tolerate the craziness, I am pretty sure they would help me with dinner every night. Their favorite thing is to bake goodies. I am pretty sure it’s because they get to lick the batter at the end, but they seem to like the mixing all the ingredients as well.
I know Mr. Train is having a similar affect on them. They jump up to the computer desks and cry out “Mommy look, I am working like Daddy.” They love to sit at the computer with him and play games. They are complete Star Wars fans. I am not sure how that happened in their short little lives, but the force is strong in our household.
I know that as their parents we influence their learning and their experiences in these early years. It just make me wonder who they will be as they grow up. Will they like the things we like because that is what we exposed them to? I keep trying to figure out what their own passions will be. I hope as we see new interests that we will be able to foster those activities and help them develop their own hobbies or pastimes like my parents did for me. Only time will tell but I am excited to see the outcome.
Do you think your interests and passions will have an affect on your children? What do you do to nurture their emerging interests?