On Becoming a Teacher

con-in-autumn.jpg 

My son Connor is 14 now (he’s a little younger in the photo above), and tomorrow he will be ordained to the office of a Teacher in the Aaronic Priesthood.When he was 12, and became a Deacon, I gave him some advice, accompanied by the poem If…” by Rudyard Kipling.  I don’t think he loved the poem, but that’s ok.  It has some really excellent things to say about what Kipling thinks it means to be a man (or, as we might say it now “a complete person”) but it is a little sappy, and it may be that you need to be older than 12 to appreciate the nuances of experience that Kipling is talking about (Connor was mostly scandalized by the stanza that appears to be about gambling).

I would like to give him more advice now, despite the fact that free advice is usually worth exactly what you pay for it.  Advice is just a gift we are compelled to give our children.  We have to tell them things and hope they listen because it’s the way we tell them about ourselves: how we got to be the way we are, what’s important to us, and what we wish we had known when we were their age.   It’s the age-appropriate equivalent of teaching them not to stick things in the electrical outlet when they were two, combined with a little storytelling from our own past.  And who knows?  It may actually help.

 As before, I’d like to start my advice with a poem.  Or in this case, a song:

Always

Here today, and gone tomorrow
Crack the bone, get to the marrow
To be a bee, and the flower
Before the sweetness turns to sour

What we have, we’re gonna keep…Always
What we’ve lost, we don’t need…Always
What is it that won’t let you sleep?…Always

Be the arrow and the target
Put your head over the parapet
Be uncool, yes be awkward
Don’t look in the obvious place
The soul needs beauty for a soul mate

Get down off your holy cloud…Always
God will not deal with the proud…Always
Well if you dream, then dream out loud…Always
Eternally yours…Always

You say you’ve come to know yourself…Always
Go find yourself in someone else…Always
And always wear a safety belt…Always
Wait for me, I’m running late…Always
This is the moment that we share…for Always
Turn each song into a prayer…Always

Now and forever
For Always, for Always, for Always

Some might say that going from Kipling to U2 is a real step down, but I don’t think so.  Songwriters are the poets that kids listen to the most anyway, so I think Bono will pardon me for using a bit of his poetry to say someting to Connor.  This song is written in the vein of advice, so it seems to fit in that way too.  What I like most about it is its perspective: eternal.  It also captures perfectly the feeling that I want to give Connor as he starts a new adventure as a Teacher: fearlessness and joy about the experiences he will have and about the future that is available to him.  I want him to know that I hope for his success in all he does, but that it’s ok to dream big and fail.  I want him to know I believe in him and trust him and that he should trust himself.  I want him to know that there are more important things than himself, but that God is concerned with him, individually, and is available to him if he will approach him in humility and faith.  Most of all, I want him to know that I love him.  Always.

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3 Responses

  1. That picture made me cry!! He will always be that age in my head (I am in no way using a pun about the size of his head.) I would have laughed if I had known back then that Con would be helping me learn how to blog one day.

  2. I agree, he is still little to me too. In fact, he hasn’t changed a bit since his ultrasound picture. His head looks exactly the same and he has the same expression on his face.

  3. My oldest is finishing his sophomore year in college and will be leaving on a mission this summer. Next summer, my second son will graduate from high school and leave on his own mission. Your post brings all of that home again to me, as I face the real possibility of being a grandfather in 5 years.

    You said, “Most of all, I want him to know that I love him. Always.”

    Here is something I wrote last Christmas, as I was thinking about how quickly my own are growing:

    http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2007/12/my-christmas-wish.html

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