Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Vicarious Life

Am I citing The Crown too much? I probably am. Can't stop now, though. 

In "Paterfamilias," young Prince Charles is being sent to school. Elizabeth would like to send him to Eton, but Philip is adamant that he be sent to his alma mater in Scotland, Gordonstoun
Philip's mission is that Charles "toughens up." 

We then flashback to Philip's time there (and his family's connections to the Nazis, cough). He did not arrive happy either. It's freezing. The showers are freezing. There's a lot of physical labor. 

But after a family tragedy hits, the school provides a framework for him to survive.
However, Charles is not his father. He did not find his time up north a fulfilling experience—more like hell—and sent his sons to Eton. 

Parents can have difficulty separating themselves from their children. They had a good time in camp; their children should go to camp. They liked sports; their children should like sports. They are content with their life as they know it; their children should too. 

But while children may be of their parents, they are not only their parents. They are also their grandparents, their great-grandparents, their great-great-grandparents, and so forth. Chances are there are a lot of different potential personalities bubbling in that cauldron of DNA. 

Dr. Chris Kaposey's "We Chose Our Child" describes his and his wife's decision to keep their Down Syndrome baby and not abort, despite their both being pro-choice.  
Why is there such reluctance to have children with Down syndrome? One explanation shows up repeatedly when parents recount the early days after receiving their child’s diagnosis. They feel a sense of loss because they no longer dream that their child will get married, go to college or start a family of their own one day — in other words, that they will not meet the conventional expectations for the perfect middle-class life.
Why do we have children at all? Most parents would agree that it is not only so that they can replicate a conventional arc of a successful middle-class life: college, marriage, real estate, grandchildren. If those are the reasons to abort fetuses with Down syndrome, they seem disappointing — they are either self-centered or empty in their narrow-minded conventionality. Aaron will probably not become a veterinarian, and that’s O.K. Childhood dreams often harmlessly go unrealized. He could still get a different job working with animals, and that would make him happy.
Children, in general, often choose to live different lives than their parents would wish. With a Down Syndrome baby, that's obvious from the get-go. With other kids, it may take a parent a few more decades to realize that. 

Like I heard from Dr. Shefali Tsabary, children are not extensions of ourselves, to lead the lives we wish for them. Then every Jewish boy would go to medical school. Children must be simply accepted and loved, as they are. 

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