Proud Parent of a Sideshow School Graduate

I know it seems weird to be proud of my kid for graduating from “sideshow school” on Coney Island, but I AM proud of him. Not because I’m happy that he now knows how to “safely” stick a coat hanger down his throat (prep for sword swallowing), or because he can eat and breathe fire, or walk on broken glass. I’m proud of him because he set his mind on a goal and accomplished it. It’s not a goal I would have chosen for him, but that doesn’t make it less of an accomplishment.

Letting my children choose their own path has been, for me, the most difficult aspect of parenting. Surely breastfeeding, potty training, and teaching them to tie their own shoes qualifies me to direct their every choice for the rest of their lives, right? Um. Only if I’m raising clones, robots, or droids.

Fortunately (or unfortunately) God hasn’t gifted us with the nurture of a set of clones or droids… He blesses us with children, and children are unique.

Walking through the park that surrounds the St. Louis Arch I was struck by the startling differences in humans. For the most part, a deer is a deer. An elk is an elk. A mountain lion is a mountain lion. But humans come in every shape and size, every single one completely and entirely unique and individual. No other species can boast of that kind of individuality.

As parents of human children, that means we have a unique responsibility: to unearth the uniqueness and individuality of each of our progeny. Sometimes that discovery is compatible with our vision, and sometimes they (because they are individuals) go an entirely different direction.

The question for us, as parents, is this: Do you love them anyway?

I once worked for a woman (a pastor’s wife) whose son died from HIV-related complications. How did she deal with it, I asked her.
“You love your children, that’s what you do.”

It puts the whole “love the sinner, not the sin” thing into stark perspective. Do I love my children’s choices? No. Do I love my children? Absolutely. And don’t try to get between me and my cubs and threaten them… I’ll eat you.

I think God feels much the same way.
Be careful who you attack, who you condemn, who you reject… that’s God’s kid.

10 thoughts on “Proud Parent of a Sideshow School Graduate

  1. Paula Moldenhauer says:

    Awesome post, Niki! I've thought so many times how we need to allow our children their own path, but you're right. Easier said than done, especially when the path isn't what we would choose.

  2. Sandy says:

    You put into better words all of which we who are mother's think but cold not express as well. I am sharing this with all my kids…and grandkids! Thanks and loved seeing your adventure as it unfolded.

  3. Debra E. Marvin says:

    Well said!

    I was happy to meet both of you on your whirlwind tour! I'm just fighting the gag reflex when I think about the sword swallowing. I will congratulate Ethan on his accomplishments and ask his forgiveness if I pass on watching that part of his act!

    He's a great guy -you're a great mom.

  4. Unknown says:

    Awesome post. If we could all just embrace this, the world would be a much more lovely place.

  5. Unknown says:

    Wow~ another great one! I don't have children, however I can try to apply in other ways.. I think the part about the huge differences in each and every human is unique and special, as a human that was a child and probably didn't make my parents to happy, however the fact that you are willing to really let them ( with guidance) be themselves is a testament to you and Pat as people not just parents..Ethan is a wonderful young man!! i am am sure the rest of your clan will be equally amazing !! you will also learn with each one something different. To me that is the magick.. <3

  6. Niki Turner says:

    Thanks, Paula! We're both right in the midst of this weird coming-of-age thing with our kiddos.

  7. Niki Turner says:

    Thank you, Sandy! You're one of those mommas who loved unconditionally and set an example for me!

  8. Niki Turner says:

    Thank you, dear friend! It blesses me to know that his true spirit comes across in person. He's a good kid. ANd don't worry, I don't want to watch his show either… spent 20 years keeping them from hurting themselves and then THIS. 🙂

  9. Niki Turner says:

    Thank you, my dear! Yes, each one is a unique adventure. But really, every encounter and relationship we have with other humans is a unique adventure, isn't it? If we can just remember to LOVE we'll do fine!

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