Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go! addresses the challenges in transitioning from one life stage to another. For better or worse, the book has become a somewhat clichéd gift to graduating students, with some critics arguing that it is creating false expectations that greatness awaits us all and that the path to success lies in our single-minded drive, without any nod to the role of community and connection to others.
And yet, my experience is the reverse; connection with others has played such a big role in the paths I’ve taken.
Of all the things I knew and didn’t know about how becoming a parent would change my life, the one that has surprised me the most is how my kids’ interests have exposed me to so many new places.
For example, yesterday I found myself someplace I never expected to be: in the bleachers at a Big 10 football game. If there was ever a time for college football to play a role in my life, it was certainly years ago when I was a student at a certain school with some ferocious mammal or other as its mascot.
I had even purchased season tickets at the recommendation of a friend in the university’s business program. Turned out while future MBA recipients networked at football games, my friends in the environmental track were more into hiking. Preferring hiking to football myself, I never used the tickets.
So, what, after all these years, led me to attend a game now?
One of my kids of course. He, along with other area high school students, was spending the day practicing and performing with the university’s marching band. And I, I was there to cheer him on.
And sitting there, marveling at an experience I never expected to have, I found myself reflecting on the many places my kids’ passions have taken me.
Did I ever expect to be on first name basis with the docents at our local aviation museum? No, but, I earned that level of intimacy by showing up, multiple times a week, eager toddlers in tow, to wait for the museum to open.
Or the construction workers who offered my hard hat-wearing toddler and me a ride on the backhoe loader. We camped out on a picnic blanket at the construction site to watch the progress. We were regulars. At home we read alphabet books with each letter referring to a different piece of machinery. Although my son no longer remembers, I can still tell the difference between treads and tires, and a backhoe loader, excavator, and the perfect-for-tight-spaces skid steer.
So, should I have been surprised to find myself at a Big 10 football game? Probably not. To quote Dr. Seuss, it’s just one of the many “great sights” and “great places” my kids’ passions have taken me.
In other news, for those of you following the trials and travails of Pettigrew’s diet we are very pleased to be able to share that we have figured out a way to get him more calories without throwing his system out of whack! Here’s to a plumper, healthier, happier pooch.