Building vs. Planting

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For Christmas, Youngest Brother gave me a sweet little book of Paulo Coelho’s quotations titled, Life. One of the excerpts jumped out at me as being very applicable to raising children:

In his or her life, each person can take one of two attitudes:
to build or to plant.
Builders may take years over their tasks,
but one day they will finish what they are doing.
Then they will stop, hemmed in by their own walls.
Life becomes meaningless once the building is finished.
Those who plant suffer the storms
and the seasons and barely rest.
Unlike a building, a garden never stops growing.
And by its constant demands
on the gardener’s attentions,
it makes of the gardener’s life a great adventure.Brida
I realized upon reading this that there is a constant temptation to “build” my children into the beings I want them to be: well-mannered, well-behaved, smart, creative, independent (but no talking back!), silly (put your PJs on now!), curious (well, honey, that’s just the way it is) and yes, adventurous people.
But the truth is, their development is not in my control. No matter how often I think I can control their outcome, it is simply not up to me. It’s challenging to sit back and wait for a seed to sprout, to passively witness how it takes shape in its own way, in its own time.
My responsibility is to guide and teach my kids. But they will grow as they choose and are able. I’ll suffer the storms and barely rest. But the adventure all along the way is mine – and theirs – to experience.

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