I took my eldest on a final sweep of college visits last week (Yes, his first name is Jens, a family name on both sides, although he most often uses his more pronounceable middle name.) What is so obvious as a parent to think but harder to do is to keep the focus on the student , on what his eyes are seeing, on what his intuition is feeling, and what piques his curiosity and what fails to catch his interest. This is a kid with a wide, wide range of interests, so to experience side by side his reactions and responses and begin to hone in, was deeply gratifying. By the stimulus of campus styles, tour guide manners and mores, college town settings, and printed materials, his goal to be a documentary filmmaker came more into focus. Journalist, writer, film director – on his own, he began to synthase these personae into a unified whole.
This process of seeing thru his eyes, guarding my own views to offer perspectives crafted in response not in replacement of his, felt familiar professionally but completely new personally. You see, I am a professional chameleon, trained by the years, the clients and the tough early boss-teachers, to listen, to evaluate and assess, before opining and deciding and pile driving my points. To stretch myself to perform this level of thoughtfulness as an anxious mother –a s’mother- is new – is foreign – and yet is the essence of encouraging my offspring to spring off.
Three inspirations from this experience:
- Really good teachers are everywhere
- Seek homogeneity of intelligence, integrity and energy in the company you keep
- Advise not through your own eyes