Cartwheels. All the time. She tries different variations of these cartwheels along with handstands and jumping from the couch, much to her mother’s consternation, flipping over and landing on her feet. At least most of the time she lands on her feet, though she slips occasionally. Has a few bumps and bruises from her efforts. She once did 100 cartwheels in a row. I know. I counted.
I’m talking about my 7 year old stepdaughter and budding gymnast, Arianna Hope Camacho, Jesseca’s youngest girl. She’s a little tyke, full of energy, usually wakes up with a smile and always has something to say, even before we have had our morning coffee. Her energy astounds us and we’re all thankful that she has the outlet of gymnastics and all of us—her father, stepmother, me and of course her mother—encourage her. She’s enrolled in two gymnastic classes per week and I’m sure she’d do one every day if she could. She’s a natural.
In addition she’s been playing piano. Takes a bit for her to focus and she gets frustrated easily but stays with it and feels very proud when she can complete an assignment. Recently it was “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round.”
Serena, my 9 year old stepdaughter, has an acting career ahead of her. Or perhaps a career as a director. She’s taken two drama courses, each one ending with a performance. She was in “Alice In Wonderland” and just recently completed “Beauty and the Beast,” and had a few roles in each of these. The teacher commented later that Serena would probably be a director because she seemed to know everyone’s lines and where they were supposed to be on stage. She does have an amazing memory for details and is always curious about things, asking why things are the way they are and how things work.
Her other talent is art. She’d taken a few art classes and one of her pieces was chosen for an art show exhibited at one of the local major shopping malls. Quite an honor, and she was very humble about it. When I saw it at the show, a charcoal rendering, I was quite impressed and frankly a bit surprised at how good it was. It was beyond my expectations and truly deserved to be a part of that show. Serena has also taken to reading lately, enjoying the power of being able to decipher these symbols we call letters and words.
It’s our intention with both girls to support their soul’s path as it reveals itself. I’ve always taken to a book by James Hillman called The Soul’s Code, wherein he uses the analogy of an acorn and an Oak tree, that the acorn has within its make up the blueprint for the mighty Oak. Although genetics and environmental factors certainly account for some of the influences, his premise is that the person’s soul itself has an imprint, even to the point of making the choice of parent or parents that he or she will come through. He terms this a myth, describing it not as a truth or theory that has to be proven, but instead it’s “a way of thinking or reflecting about life.”
In an interview about the book, Hillman talks about how the soul “grows down”: “The myth states the roots of the soul are in the heavens, and the human grows downward into life. A little child enters the world as a stranger, and brings a special gift into the world. The task of life is to grow down into this world. Little children are often slow to come down.”
He further asserts that from this perspective, although the parents’ roles are important, our primary instrument of fate is not our parent’s. He states, “Of course, parents have a strong role. The myth itself says that the soul chose your particular parents, and so they are part of your destiny, whether you experienced a lack of parenting, peculiar parenting, single parenting, or adoptive parenting. But that’s not the be-all and end-all of existence. We overload parents today, as if they owned and were totally responsible for their children’s entire fates (italics mine) . . . It doesn’t relieve them of responsibility, but it unburdens them of carrying the child’s destiny.”
Phew! I recall when I first read this a few years ago I felt relieved that in spite of my flawed parenting with my now older daughters, that they had their own destinies to fulfill and that I was an agent assigned to support those destinies. They are now beautiful adults, and I clearly see how they are honoring their soul’s path. As I reflect on their childhood I can see in retrospect how they were moving towards who they are today.
With our children, in addition to meeting their basic needs, it’s important to recognize that their souls in their “growing down” as Hillman describes it, carry the basic imprint of their destiny. We as parents can do our utmost to discern this and support it by offering our children opportunities that we surmise to in alignment with their unfoldment, whether its cartwheels or directing a play. In addition to meeting the child’s basic needs as a fundamental purpose of parenting, we can look for the clues that tell us how we can nurture the gifts that the child has come into this world with. Not always an easy task, but when we accept that the child has their own unique path, it can help us know how to best nurture that path.
. . . and there goes Ari doing cartwheels and Serena giving directions. Obviously expressions that will continue to develop as these beautiful girls grow.