With high school and college graduation season in full swing, and as my son’s 18th birthday quickly approaches, it seems a fitting time to repost this blog entry I wrote for Left Brain/Right Brain back in October 2007. There was quite a bit of discussion when I first posted this, so visit the original post to read the comments too.
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One of my high school philosophy teachers (at a Jesuit high school here in St. Louis) used popular music of the time (70’s and early 80’s) as a tool in classes. I mostly remember using Supertramp (Crime of the Century) and some Pink Floyd (”Welcome to the Machine” was a favorite). No surprise, then, that this habit continues to today. Check out the pop-culture label at 29 Marbles for some of my earlier posts using pop-culture as the starting point.
I’ve been a Pink Floyd fan for a long time, and like any true Pink Floyd fan count The Dark Side of the Moon among my favorite albums, by anyone, of all time. The song “Time” is an excellent reflection of the fleeting nature of our time in this world. The second verse includes the following lyrics:
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.
These lyrics are quite literal, and it is not too difficult to catch the meaning. But I gained a bit more insight into these words, especially the last line, while watching a documentary of the making of the album (told 30 years after the fact).
In the documentary, Roger Waters talks about a teenage conversation with his mother and the realization that it was time for him to start living his own life, that the “starting gun” had fired. One of the most important jobs a parent has is preparing kids for life on their own (however you may define that), a life that they are in control of (to the extent that anyone is control of their own lives).
There is a somewhat well defined path that we typically, though not always, can follow with our normal (in the statistical sense) kids. And many of us have come up with our own ways of preparing our kids for what lies beyond childhood.
But how do we let our kids, especially our autistic kids, know that the starting gun has fired?
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Another just as important question; how do we as parents accept that the starting gun has fired and let our kids run their own race? With regret? Excitement? Fear? Joy?