What is the shape of a balloon as it falls up to the sky? Does it hold its own, or is it defined by its surroundings? Does it succumb to the pressure within or to the pressure without? Does it eventually equalize, and find a strata wherein it bobs forever? Does it escape the atmosphere into free space? Or, does it expand to the limits of its capacity until it explodes and returns back to the earth in a flaccid bundle of sloughed off rubber? What exactly is the shape of a balloon as it falls up to the sky?
Just so, what is the path of a child as they grow up to adulthood? Do they hold their own, or are they defined by their surroundings? Do they succumb to the pressure within or to the pressure without? How much is determined by their own abilities, and how much because of the color of their skin, their gender, the tags on their clothes, their birth order, or the slur of their words? How much is determined by their own genetic make up, and how much is dictated by the environment in which they are raised?
Sometimes I wonder if the path of a child with great musical or artistic talent changes simply because an older sibling got there first. The ecological niche has been claimed, therefore a new path has to be taken. Sometimes I see the path of a child with great logical abilities deflected simply because they were born a female, or the path of a child with great physical abilities funneled into sports rather than dance, simply because they were born a male. What a travesty it is, when the path of a child becomes distorted because of the well-meaning expectations of others.
The story of Quirky came to me decades before I actually wrote it, during a period of time when I was redefining my own role from a child with great potential, to a mother of children with greater potential. It was a time when my priorities changed from staying up all night to finish a good book, to staying up to clean house, vacuum, and finish laundry so they could go forth into life and dirty all again.
During this time of my life, I realized my role had become akin to a coat rack. I met them at the door, for where else would I be? They’d drop all their baggage on me; “so-and-so this”, or “he and she that”, then off they’d run to play, knowing I would have supper ready and help with the homework later. When things went wrong, I was there to blame, for who else could be blamed? When stomachs became hungry, I was there to grump at, for who else was at fault?
What is the path of a child, when they become a coat rack? For surely this is the end-path, if it is modeled for them to emulate. Yet, when is self-effacing sacrifice ever the path we wish our children’s end goal to be? We must realize, they will not become what we tell them to, but rather, they will become that which we are.
I look back at the paths my own mother never took, and the sacrifices she made so that I could give up all my potential to become a coat rack, and I am determined that her future paths be explored. At 88 years old, she still has great potential. I look back today at my own path, that of the child of great potential, who became a coat rack, then danced out the door to get a Math degree, yet still had dinner on the table for the children of great potential who were never intended to become coat racks. Each of those children now have their own homes, their own college degrees, and their own paths, which they are pursuing with the full support of their own circles. I look back, then look forward at all our future paths, and I stand in awe at this accumulation of potential.
I now write these stories, for Children and their Adults, in hopes that all can empower, and be empowered by each other, to explore our limits to their infinite potential. My path did not end as a coat rack, and my path is not ending at just a degree, just a career, or just a few books. The path of this child within me still has many twists and turns before it is complete.
What was I thinking, when I wrote the story of Quirky, the Quixotic Coat Rack? I was thinking that perhaps none should have to settle for being just a coat rack, or a door mat, or an indentured servant to anyone else’s potential that may be perceived as greater than their own. We each have potential, we each have value. My hope is that our individual paths balloon out infinitely, while intertwining supportively, and be of benefit to all.
Paperback: 26 pages
Publisher: Pageturner, Press and Media (March 13, 2019)
Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.1 x 8.5 inchesBuy Now
More writings from Cindy Graves can be found at www.echoesoms.com.