Not the same…

August and a friend climbing a hill in the middle of the city

When August was four months old, the Phillies won the World Series. The Phils had won once before, in October of 1980, when my husband was four months old. Chris spent his childhood in love with the Philadelphia Phillies. And he went into his adult Philadelphia fandom with great commitment.

So, of course, baby August donned his Phillies sweatshirt and hat. And we cheered like crazy. We brought that kid out to the TV so we could say he had been there when the Phils finally did it, when the Philadelphia sports “curse” was finally broken.

Here’s the thing: Chris’ dad and grandparents are from northern New Jersey. Of course they’re Yankees fans. But my husband grew up in Philadelphia. He cheered for the home team. And if we had stayed there in that house we bought six years ago, I have no doubt August would be growing up a Phillies fan too.

But, three weeks into our new life in San Francisco, the Giants made the World Series. So, despite our family love for the Phillies, we turned on the TV to watch the Giants play. August saw posters all over town. His friends wore hats and sweatshirts. And, then, one night before bed, he said it: “Daddy, you’re not a Giants fan, because you’re not from San Francisco. But I am! And I like the Giants best.”

Our kids don’t have the same lives we had.

I’m learning that more and more. Right now I’m researching public schools here in the city. And I’m telling you, city schools are not the same as schools in, say, Amarillo. They are urban. They are gated. They don’t have grass (most of the time). That’s hard for me to get my head around. I loved having grass at school when I was a kid. Sure, some of us played on the blacktop jumping rope. But most of us ran in the grass or dug holes when we weren’t supposed to. The boys in third grade had an ongoing soccer match in the field. I’m scared of sending my boys to a school without grass.

Our kids are growing up with us as their parents. In a city. One of the most beautiful cities in the world and also one of the most broken. Everything is extreme here. That’s why I love this town. That’s why this town scares me so deeply.

August is learning to ride his bike down city sidewalks toward busy streets. And he walks with Chris to the hardware store a block over. We went to one of the most beautiful aquariums in the country yesterday afternoon. It’s a five-block walk from our house and we’ve been there four times since we moved here. I love that for my kids. This is the life we’re giving them.

We are giving them a completely new life. Not mine, not Chris’. So if they’re Giants fans or city boys who jump at the sight of bugs or deep appreciators of the local food movement…If they are beautifully shaped by the diversity of their city schools, but have less opportunities to play pick up soccer games in third grade…If they learn to see the beautiful in the faces of the broken we meet on the streets…If they turn out different than me or Chris, but made generous by the best things this city offers, then who am I to wish my life on theirs?

This is their childhood anyway. They never asked for mine.

  • Laura @ Mothering Spirit

    What a fantastic piece – and a perspective I haven’t heard voiced very often from parents, even though it’s so true for many (most?) of us.
    “This is their childhood anyway. They never asked for mine.” Love this – wow.

  • Nancy

    How wonderful that August is loving owning being from San Francisco, and loves what that brings him and how it allows him to be different from you both, but still oh so loved! What a wonderful foundation for growing up and becoming his “own true self.” What a wonderful kind of parenting.

  • Tamara @ This Sacramental life

    Although our kids were older when we moved I’ve been thinking the same kind of thoughts. We’re in the stage of parenting where I’m not only thinking about the different childhood for our kids but our grandkids also. (that’s a very weird thought, let me tell you!) Depending on the day, I have the same kind of peace you’ve written so well here. It helps me when I realize that — by treasuring extended family and building traditions around our former hometown — we’re giving our kids this new place AND the old. They may become lifelong Texans but they’ll also know the beauty of a New York summer lakeside.
    Thanks for passing the peace through your words this morning!

  • Margaret

    I bet they love the aquarium! They’ll hold those memories for a long long time

  • phyllis filkin lorenz

    I really love this Micha. It is so important to allow our kids to discover their God-given uniqueness. So much danage can be done to kids who must fit some unconscious mold their parents may not even know they are forcing on their kids.
    We LOVE another Giants fan! But remember, Hunter Pence got traded by the Phillies late in the season and really rallied the team! He is even called, “the reverend” for his inspiring speech that turned things around for the Giants this year.

  • phyllis filkin lorenz

    So the Giants have a “bit o’ Philadelphia” in them, I’d say.

  • Diana Trautwein

    This right here? A little bit of perfection, that’s what it is. And I thank you for it. (As always….)

  • Kristin T. (@kt_writes)

    This is so wise and perceptive, even though I’m sure you’ve done much soul searching and inner reasoning to get to this place! I think if we have good memories of childhood we tend to think they are not just *set* in the specific time and place where we grew up, but that they are *rooted* in them—we assume the good experiences are a product of that specific school or vacation spot or park. But really, what makes each childhood special, I think, is that it belongs distinctly to each individual—a unique structure of memories built on a foundation of love. It’s so important that we let our children have *their* childhoods.

  • Pingback: Thankful Tuesday: sun through the windows, afternoon snuggles, Korean Spa()

  • Heatherer

    I’m a late commenter as usual, but I just wanted to say that you are not alone in your fear or disappointment or whatever you would call it about the grass-less playgrounds. We live in a small city and the nearest school, the only one my son is allowed to go to (6 years from now, so I don’t know why I’m already thinking about it) is entirely paved. I’m not worried about the skinned knees – I know that’s a normal part of childhood. And I’ve been reassured by everyone who has had kids there that despite the age of the building and the economic difference compared to other schools in our town, the education is great. But every time I walk by, there’s a part of me that is very sad that there is no grass, no element of the wild, beautiful natural world that he can come out to for a respite from the day’s work. I know it will be okay. I know he will learn playground games I don’t know and make wonderful friends. But I still feel that little twinge about the grass, for now.