Is it really true that every child is born with a special and unique gift?
If you ask 10 people, chances are all of them will answer with a “yes.” Which begs the next questions: “How do you find out what that gift is?” And what do you do about it as a parent?
A gift and a dream
I distinctly remember sitting near my mother as she fussed over her sewing machine. As she cut and measured, smoothed out her fabric and measure again, fit pieces together and run them through her machine, her eyes were alert and her body arching forward as her feet pedaled. I used to cherish the whirring sound of the machine.
But I also remember that voice… how it titillated on the edge of a sweet high note, skipped with playful ease over rich, complicated riffs, then suddenly bellowed out deep earthy tones. Sometimes it was quite startling, and left me a little wild-eyed and breathless.
It sounded a lot like the opera singers we used to listen to on the old Philips radio with the two huge knobs. You could get all your fingers around those knobs when you turned them. The radio was larger than the center-table. I used to sit in front of it, and when female singers came on. I’d compare them with the sound of my mother’s voice and imagine her on a dark stage somewhere, with the floodlights on her delicate face.
You see, my mother had stopped with her piano and singing lessons when she started a family. She talked about it every now and then.. how Ms Floss Cassasola, her piano teacher, used to idolize her long slender fingers, her singing, and her talent.
I think if she was born at another time, in another country, she would have been world-famous. She had that dream once. But she died with it. I was her only audience for those few years, keeping her company along with her Singer sewing machine as she did her magic… manufacturing all the clothes for her eight children on a budget that no single person can live on for more than a few days today.
Societal values vs. the gift
Gabby Douglas’s mother says when she was just a little more than a toddler, she used to grab hold of the doorknob and scuttle her way up the door to swing on the top edge. There was nothing anyone could do to stop her from her antics. Her talent was easy to spot.
I believe that this is the case when your child has a talent that is easily marketable… something that is a spectacle because it entertains and inspires us. Even then, however, our societies often have values that chip away at the full expression of that talent. I shudder at what might have happened if Gabby had grown up in an environment where ugly people said ugly things and used ugly language to describe her childish antics.
At other times, as was the case with my mother, norms and values dictate what happens even when your child’s talent is marketable. Back in those days, opportunities for raw talent as an opera singer in a developing British dependency didn’t exist. The responsible thing for a woman to do was to get married and raise children.. and that’s it.
Even if she had a job outside the home, it usually only consisted of “female work.” Translation: regardless of how valuable it really is, it doesn’t deserve pay; even when it is paid for, it shouldn’t be equal pay.” I know we’ve come a long way since the 60’s, but expectations and values still too often place limits on how far we can nurture the gifts our children are born with.
Your Child’s identity
I believe that everyone has a unique purpose on this earth. I believe that you get a sense of what your child’s purpose will look like when you pay attention to her natural talents and inclinations.
I also believe that if you give her freedom, nurture her with abundant and consistent encouragement and support, and teach her world-values, she will grow and choose her path and show you what an amazing person she is in her own right… just as amazing as Gabby… just with another talent. I love listening to Gabby talk. She’ s still a “diamond in the rough,” but you can hear the core of what will continue to inspire us long after she stops performing gravity-defying feats with her body.
Just remember that YOUR child has her own talent, her own purpose, and her own identity. Far too many parents keep looking for more marketable gifts in their children even as the real one stares them in the face every single day.
Commercialism, materialism, nationalism, and a whole host of other “isms” are blinders in front of our eyes, preventing us from recognizing the value of talents meant for making our world a better place. It’s just a pity that we have not evolved as yet as humans to the point where such things are not always given the commercial or monetary value or recognition they deserve.
We’ve mostly designed our entire education systems to serve industrial needs. The purpose of the individual, and the hunt for what every child was born to bring to our planet, is hardly a consideration. Luckily, we have thought leaders sounding the alarm that we need to evolve a new way of looking at education as we head into the post-modern era.
The world citizen
Times are changing fast though. Within a few seconds, someone like my mother can now use You Tube to get the entire universe to hear her voice over the whir of her Singer sewing machine as she pedaled her feet.
In Europe, South America, and even the developing world, people are reaching out to others across national boarders over the internet… finding things and ideas and purpose that binds and bring them together; celebrating what makes them different instead of judging and distancing themselves from what they see.
People are seeing a bigger picture in a smaller world… and their place in it with their unique talents and natural gifts. And enlightened parents are teaching tomorrow’s leaders to see and acknowledge their oneness with people on the other side of the globe.
In the emerging global village, just as Gabby’s million-dollar smile lights us up, your child’s gift of compassion, of inspiring hope, of mending fences between people, will be easier for you to push to their limits to help humanity grow. The ability to spin a story, to see humor in challenging environments, to clean, cook and sew in such creative ways, we will learn to see them as having supreme value.
I think my daughter has a special gift with young children because they fall in love with her, and she with them, just minutes after meeting. They want to follow her around after that for hours. I think she can influence millions of children in the postmodern world. Luckily, she may also be able to take that straight to the bank too.
So even if it doesn’t SEEM to have marketable value, what’s your child’s special talent? Start your own discussion by commenting below.