I’ve stated before that, when I was little, I wanted to be either an architect or an author. But I also went through the usual gamut of aspiring to be a firefighter, a retail clerk, or trapeze artist.
I wanted to be a tourist. I still do, but at least now I realize that, unless you work for a travel magazine, that isn’t really a profession.
More than anything, I wanted to be a child a prodigy. I had the intense feeling that, if I hadn’t proven myself by the time I was fifteen or so, I had failed for life.
Well, I definitely wasn’t a prodigy.
Now I have children of my own, and I’m watching them go through some of the same stuff I did. However their childhoods are vastly different from mine. The reasons are countless… different part of the country, different socioeconomic status, new technologies.
My older daughter is about to turn thirteen (Lord Help Me!) She has special needs, and so she is still learning to do some of the things that five year olds take for granted. She has trouble tying shoes. Although she can empty the dishwasher because she’s learned where everything goes, she is incapable of loading the dishwasher because that requires logical decision-making, and that is still a difficult area for her.
Just because I didn’t become a child prodigy by age fifteen doesn’t mean I’m a failure at life. Just because my daughter will still be working on certain adolescent skills well into her twenties and beyond does not mean she will be a failure at life.
It simply means we lead different lives.
I didn’t get serious about writing until I was just a couple months shy of forty. I already had two degrees, two children, and one mid-life crisis under my belt. (Actually, I decided long ago that I’d have two “third life” crises. I had one at thirty, so I’m not due for another until I’m sixty.) Part of me wonders how different my life would be if I’d taken that Liberal Arts scholarship at age 18 instead of going to school for engineering. Certainly very different. But at the ripe old age of forty-one, I’m over the idea that I have to accomplish certain things by a certain age. It’s not the life I planned, but it’s my life. And if I don’t see my name on a book on the grocery store shelf until I’m well past fifty, I’ll still celebrate.
And maybe I’ll even move on to other things.
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