This week we left the chickens too long on one patch of the yard and we forgot to feed them. Our care of the chickens is not dissimilar to our parenting style whose central principle is probably ‘benign neglect’. The chickens – like the children – are used to this and rolled with the punches. In a stroke of poetic irony, they tore out the kawakawas, pooped out about a dozen eggs, and ate the hen and chicken ferns. Any one of these moves should be construed as a big middle chicken claw in our general direction. Collectively, I sense their snickering clucks all the way from the front of the house.
My daughters are now nearly full grown. Actually, two of them are technically done and the third insists she isn’t fully baked yet only because she has ambitions to hit 5’10”. In reply to my daily, helicopter messages of urgent concern over the about-to-explode-Anung, my eldest cheerfully snaps back her equivalent of the middle chicken claw in the form of pictures of her tan, gorgeous, fit, and pretty drunk figure having a ball in a Bali nightclub. The problem with raising kids to be independent, smart, strong, self-reliant kids able to feed themselves even when you forget is that you don’t get to change your mind; Once equipped to be brilliant, they go off and do whatever the hell they want.
Isn’t that what we want though? For our chickens, our kids, the people who work for and with us? We want them to be able to look at adversity, assess the real risk, and then make lemonade out of the prize lemon tree. And if we don’t like what they choose to do, the direction they go, the ideas and motives that drive them, the choices they make when we pass over the reins of power, aren’t we still obligated to accept that unleashing their best selves means we have to trust the outcome?
My ferns look like a horde of locusts blew through. But fair enough, eau d’chicken fern flavoured omelette is delicious. Who knew?
“It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.” ~ Ann Landers