As my boy grows up, all I want is for him to be handsome and kind of clueless. Not Ivy League material? Fine with me. Not career focused? Great. Spending a lot of time figuring it all out? Perfect. I don’t want him to be smart. I want him to meander through life and be happy. And being cute never hurt anyone either.
I certainly don’t want to raise one of these hyper-driven, overly scheduled non-kidlike kids. I don’t want him to have a plan by the time he’s 18 for what he wants to do for the rest of his life.
In many ways, I don’t want him to be anything like me. I think too much. I worry. A lot. I’m a planner. I talk about planning when I’m not planning. It’s all so exhausting. I can’t turn off my brain. I’ve been scared to take risks. I’ve never taken any time off. Like, real time. A break.
I’m embarrassed to admit what my dreams were. I’ve dreamt of and fretted over fitting in more than anything. I’ve wasted time trying to fit the part. That’s not what my son needs to do. I don’t want him to learn how to be this way from me. In fact, I want him to learn that it’s more than okay, indeed desirable, to not really know what you’re doing with the rest of your life. I hope he just doesn’t care.
He doesn’t need to look before he leaps. He needs to smile and be charming and open and talk easily and, in turn, he will effortlessly make tons of friends. And yes, being handsome matters. People like good-looking people. They trust them. They include them. They hire them. They marry them. And it’s okay that he didn’t have to work a second of his life to get that.
He should not be afraid to say “yes” and take chances. I hope some of these chances are ill-advised and downright dumb. There are far worse things. I’d rather him be happy and wander through life, than strive to be a “success” as most people (his grandparents, probably) would define it. He does not need to strategize or plot his next career move or have a 5-year plan or even have a to-do list most days.
In fact, I believe the to-do list is the undoing of most of us. It’s too much, too much pressure to just rush to the next thing to cross off the list. And it’s certainly too much for a child. I want him to know that he can take the long road, the one that’s winding, the one that has all those roses for him to stop and smell. He learns more of what matters this way, rather than wasting time on things that don’t. And guess what? Most of the time, it all works out in the end.
A family down the street has a bumper sticker that reads, “Not all who wander are lost.” This is not terribly original; I’ve heard it before. However, every single time my little boy runs furiously past their house in a mad-dash to nowhere, just following his imagination, it strikes me. I hope he wanders happily forever. I never want him to slow down, or feel like he has to do something. And I hope he always stays just as cute, because it does make things easier. Because it’s all just a crapshoot anyway. And you gotta enjoy the ride, because it’s all the ride. And the earlier he learns that, the better. I’m still making to-do lists and plotting and planning on how to figure that out.
About the author: Danielle D’Ingillo is a television producer and writer from Long Island, NY. Her adventures of being a devoted wife and mother to a toddler while navigating the oddities of suburban living can be found at mominnormaltown.com.