Last night I watched the film Surfwise and it made me start thinking more about my lifestyle and the lifestyle that Cory and I will provide for Archer. Surfwise is a documentary on Doc Paskowitz and his family of 11 who traveled the country in a 24′ camper, surfed daily and eventually started a well-renowned surfing camp. The film is rich with potentially dichotomous ideas on health, education, sex, success, religion, and, of course, child-rearing. I started out being greatly inspired by Doc’s choice to separate his children from public education and American materialism and instill in them a strong value of health. However, as the film progresses, it becomes clear that that there are serious repercussions for his choices.
As with so many things, I believe balance is the key. I know I will never be able to convince Cory to sell everything and take off on an unknown adventure with me and the (soon-to-be) kids. But, I still plan to travel on a regular basis and provide my children with experiences similar to my childhood. I know that I want to raise my children to value good nutrition and exercise, but there will be times when we eat tex-mex at Trudy’s (Cory’s favorite) or order pizza. I hope to balance that by getting their help with the garden and exposing them to produce that I only became familiar with in the past 5 years such as beets, fennel, kale, chard, and turnips, etc. I would rather not put my children in public school, but that decision may take a back seat to other family values and I think that parents are just as responsible as schools for their child’s education. The public school system doesn’t teach you to manage money, change a tire, or develop a good work ethic. As an adult educator I know that there is only so much you can do for students. If they insist on doing the very least possible to pass, then so be it. When students are young, it should be the responsibility of the parent to inspire curiosity, motivation, and an active interest in the world around them. If you’re apathetic, you’ll have apathetic children.
Of course, I may look back on this in 5, 10, 15 years and laugh at how naive I was. There is no way to know for sure what kind of parent you will be or how your children will turn out until it’s already happened. We all just do the best we can do, right? Still, as a soon-to-be parent, it is fascinating to me to consider which parts of my personality developed from nature versus nurture and to witness so many examples of how parents affect their children. To some extent, children are born as little pieces of clay that we mold even when we are not intending to do so. They go out into the world and continue to be shaped by their experiences and we hope that the impressions we’ve made are not completely destroyed in the process.