I take the liberty of narrating what I heard from a couple in a park in Orlando, USA, when it was still possible to be there. The parents of the beautiful girl Cecília are from Sorocaba. Loving, they announced that their daughter would receive a big surprise in a few days. The child marked with an X on the calendar each day that was left until the gift was revealed. The expected date has arrived. The parents happily declare, “Daughter, you’re going to Disney!” The girl asks with some disappointment: “What is Disney?”
In the parks I saw hundreds of baby strollers. Many twins (and some triplets) who indicated, perhaps, a greater use of fertility treatments. For those who have never been, there are (large) car parking areas. What would a child of 1 or 2 years old take advantage of that model of travel? Of course, the same can be asked of the almost always frightening yearlong parties: a terrified baby, irritated by the noise and crazy to defecate with ease. 1-year parties do not celebrate the life that came into the world, they show the pride of those who generated it. Perhaps something similar occurs with large amusement parks.
My nephew is 9 years old and did not know Mickey, Goofy, Donald or Pluto. Childish idols were more stable before. In my childhood, my mother saw Snow White in the cinema. I saw in the television. Today, Harry Potter is generally indicative of someone between 20 and 30 years old, who was small at the beginning of this century. Cinderella’s castle must be read in many ways by different age groups. In Frankfurt, I went to the museum about Hoffmann’s work, fascinated by the Struwwelpeter (something like Pedro Escabelado) that my grandmother Edyth told. Today, idols are very generational.
I saw many happy teenagers and adults in Florida. Young children slept, or cried. The brave Cecília challenged the roller coaster called Everest, with theatrical narratives about the abominable snowman and a lot of speed. The stomach rises to the esophagus and the sphincter threatens widespread rebellion. Screams to interpret some dignity. The little one faced the ordeal well. Would you have liked it?
I allow myself to expand my thinking as a teacher. Does the children’s dream coincide with the dream / desire of parents and teachers? To what extent should we convey our desires and our inevitable frustrations? Here comes the most terrible contradiction: having children and educating implies a very special connection, sometimes symbiotic. You feel their pain, cry and laugh in unison and, hopefully, the opposite is true. However, educating is a gesture of individuation and not of symbiosis. Your values exist. They will be tested, judged and criticized, adopted and abandoned in a system of children’s autonomy. As painful as it may be, rebellion is a symptom of humanity.
Painful and fundamental conclusion: to educate is to prepare for absence, for withdrawal, for freedom. To educate is to love a lot, to be by the side, to be always and never to be in the place of the one you love. When will your child be able to clearly distinguish good from evil? Like you: never. Clearly and absolutely, never. We will die by making mistakes. We will never be perfect. Trying to help, we make permanent mistakes. There is only one way to educate: letting it act. I know: it is very distressing to suppose that someone we love can slip into life. It hurts the soul and the narcissus. Separating what is a genuine concern for attempted control is so complicated that it seems to exceed our human sense.
Do not imagine that I am recommending something like leave. Loving implies closeness. Advice can and should be given. There are things that even go beyond the idea of freedom, like giving a vaccine. Does the child kick, scream and cry? No problem, health is more important than an aerobic tantrum exercise. I always stressed: rules circumscribe the void, norms put a frame in chaos. Without them, clear and rational, the human being is completely lost. I am not here defending the void, however, the recognition that the educational process is increasingly liberating and that one loves someone so that that person may leave the nest one day, fly alone, be happy away from the familiar lights and shadows. Clear principles (and plausible sanctions) are essential. I still cut my nails regularly, remembering the Struwwelpeter I mentioned. A man like me, on his way to the diamond wedding with his life, talks to the boy who heard the scared tale. Values remain, but the idea that we can control all variables is a narcissus delusion and never a love one.
For many religious, God created man and did not take away his free will. The Creator allowed us to make mistakes, giving us a unique privilege among the creatures. We are free, hopelessly free, condemned to freedom. How to be a perfect father and a perfect mother? Perhaps, not seeking the ideal, but the real. Above all, never trying to be more than God. Hopefully, children and students will survive us and, perhaps, one day, even want to see Disney. Good week to all.
After 50 years of separation, Beatlemania remains in São Paulo