There's so much parental advice offered up out there: wear a jacket when it's chilly, don't pull the dog's tail, broccoli is good for you, never run with a lollipop in your mouth, you need fresh air and exercise, better not cross your eyes or they'll freeze like that, color inside the lines, eating food dropped on the floor is a big no-no – thank goodness there are songs like the lovely and eloquent Scott Miller's (which Nelson posted) to take us to the crux of the matter.
We want our children to be good people... to have a sense of family, friendship and the world... to live in the moment... to do the right thing when no one is watching (and, when that fails, to be lucky enough to survive the wrong thing) – ultimately, we become better people in our desire to shape their ethics, values and passions...
In the songs-I-wish-I'd-written-for-my-children spirit, I offer up four examples of counsel from the deepest, truest, most sincere place of all: the heart...
James Taylor: Secret O' Life
"The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time
Any fool can do it
There ain't nothing to it
Nobody knows how we got to the top of the hill
But since we're on our way down
We might as well enjoy the ride..."
Joan Baez: Forever Young (written by Bob Dylan)
"May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young..."
Tom Russell: Box of Visions
"I give to you a box of visions
I give to you a jar of hearts
I'll give to you the gypsy's ear
To hear the sacred harp
I'll give to you a house of mirrors
A thousand eyes they belong to you
A labyrinth of wild roses
I know you'll find your own way through..."
Maura O'Connell: Feet of a Dancer
"I hope you find the feet of a dancer
I hope you can sing in the rain
I hope you find all the easy answers to your pain
I hope you find love and affection, someone who cares
I hope you find all the right direction everywhere..."
My children are now 27, 24 and 20... and I still wish all of the above for them – as Anne Tyler so eloquently states in Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant: there's no statute of limitations on motherhood (amend that to parenthood)...
40 Year Itch : Well, Firm and High
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