What We Pass On

It's stating the obvious, but we try to give our children what we value the most in our own lives.

I have some friends who have made certain that their children are getting music lessons -- one is learning violin, another has started flute, another studies trumpet. Each of these friends (at the very least) had music lessons themselves as a child; and for two of them, music has remained an important, even a defining, experience in their lives. Me, I never learned an instrument; I remain largely indifferent to the joys and benefits of music. So it's no coincidence that I haven't pushed music lessons on either of my children. Evie is still doing keyboard, but I'm lax about enforcing practice, and when Alice chose to give up last year, I didn't try to argue her out of it.

Other friends have made sure that their children take part in organised sporting activities: netball, football, tennis. Again, these are people who enjoy and value physical activity and team sports in their own lives. Michael has admitted that if he had sons, he would have tried harder to enrol them in cricket or football; as it is, we haven't tried too hard (ahem).

So what the hell have I given my children, I ask myself, since I'm obviously such a crap and lazy mother? No surprises here: the one thing I have persisted with is books. I still regularly read aloud to my children, even though they are now both capable of reading for themselves (and do). My idea of a fun excursion is "let's go to the library!" or "let's check out the second hand bookshop!" I am more inclined to buy a spontaneous book-present than take my girls clothes shopping.

I'm not saying that my other friends don't value books, or read aloud to their children: they do. But it's interesting to me that, even when other things can seem too hard, I will never stop pushing the words.

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