The kids I babysit are adorable and very nice. Occasionally difficult, but aren't all kids? If kids are a little difficult sometimes, that just means they're smart. Would you really want some robot of a kid who obeys your every command?
...Well, maybe some parents would. Case in point: my dad is washing dishes while I dry them. He is dissatisfied with the speed at which I am drying the dishes (though I'm not getting in his way). He says: "You know, if you had a drill sergeant breathing down your neck, you might consider going a little faster." Me: "Well, luckily I don't have a drill sergeant breathing down my neck, then. The dishes aren't going anywhere fast."
I firmly believe that you can't run a family like you run the military. Which brings me to the topic for today's post: "be yourself." Someone I follow on twitter tweeted a link to their blogpost "Be yourself? What do you think that really means?" I tweeted a cynical reply that was something to the effect of: "being yourself" = get good grades, go to college, land a lucrative job, and have two kids in a nice, heterosexual marriage. If you think I'm being cynical, I'm speaking purely from experience here. My mom, joker that she is, told her church friend, "I used to tell her [me], get good grades, go to college, get a paying job, get married and have kids. Now that she's going to a women's college, I tell her, get good grades, go to college, get a paying job, get married to a MAN, and have kids."
Now, I'm not a lesbian, but can you see where I would find this annoying?
So what does "be yourself" really mean? I mean, who else would you be being? I think a lot of people--kids and adults--don't know who they are. The teens and twenties are part of that exploration of self. Cliques and groups in high school, often based on style and interests, are part of that teen need to define oneself. It's my opinion that self isn't necessarily fixed; if it was, people would be irredeemable. People recreate--or destroy--themselves all the time. Significant life events change who you are. Why do adults, well past those exploratory teen years, go through mid-life crises? They don't know who they are; or rather, they are changing into a new person and missing the old one.
All these thoughts kind of converged in my brain this past Sunday, where I listened to a sermon about the prodigal son. The lesson deals with a common source of contention between parents and children--money--but in the end, the son returns to the father and the father takes him back. Now that's all very well, but what if the story had been about the prodigal daughter who comes home pregnant? Or a son who comes out to his parents? The point of the story is that parents should accept their kids no matter what, and no matter who they are. Unfortunately, "be yourself," as the tweeter replied to me, more often than not means "be a source of pride to me."
And while I'm not saying you should hurt your parents, neither should you live to please them.