Skip to content

our children’s dreams may not be our own

2014 October 9
by Rachel Turiel


I wandered around the deflated garden yesterday, while Rose’s homeschool co-op buddies scripted their freeplay in real time. Okay, so say you’re a doctor and I broke my leg and you say: you’ll need a cast, and I say: I’ll take the purple kind, and then you say: we’re out of purple… (all of this interspersed with a tremendous amount of joyous screaming. Oy).

Meanwhile, Col’s homeschool co-op cronies, ten miles away, were conducting a coming-of-age ceremony for Seneca’s goat, Heidi, who just came into her womanhood, ovulatorily speaking. Heidi’s goat-puberty coincided serendipitously with the co-op’s current topic, Gender Studies, which includes sexual development as well as LBGT studies, sacred masculine/feminine, gender stereotypes in media…you know, typical 4th grade curriculum. Col’s co-op spent their freeplay writing a song to recite to Heidi the goat, who loved it so much she ate it. Perfect.


Rose’s co-op cohorts found 45 words to describe an antler for their studies on mindful seeing.

Col is currently immersed in practicing his BB gun skills. We’ve been bringing the gun on hikes, promising shooting time after just a little more walking; this works in exactly the same way a bag of bakery treats works for Rose (Speaking of gender studies. Oy #2). Raising a boy is a continuing education for me. I’m hugely invested in maintaining closeness with Col as he grows, though the intersection of our interests is a stark place with lots of open seats. He loves throwing the football, airplanes, drawing, target shooting, making fires, playing soccer, engineering and building, and legos. And I like, well, making sauerkraut and then maybe writing a little about it.


Oh this? Just three gallons of sauerkraut.gender7Painting the chicken coop in a mini skirt.

Rose’s world, to be honest, is also one I often peer into like a bewildered foreigner. Rose spends a lot of time brushing, braiding and coloring (with markers) various barbie, pony and doll hair. One blink later the hair is hacked—flaxen strands confettied across our floor—like barbie finally decided to kick the patriarchy’s beauty stereotypes to the curb. My role is clear here: hand Rose the broom.

gender8 Rose in size 8 shoes and a new foster cat: the usual.

When Col was a very small baby, the term preemie following his very person the way writer will always attach itself to Stephen King, I had just a few wishes for him. They were not that he and I share hobbies. No, they were on the order of: please let his brain work OK. Sometimes they were more specific, like: Please allow him to master sucking, swallowing and breathing simultaneously.


This is Mae, our new rat. As Rose said about Martha’s surprising death, “I just want to get a new white rat, name her Martha, and not have to feel sad.” I totally get this. However, we had a proper burial (in the compost pile), shed tears and offered gratitude. And then two days later went to the pet store and got Mae. She is lovely.

I won’t lie and say that watching Rose paw wild berries into her mouth on a plant walk I led this summer didn’t inflate me with happiness. She knows her wild plants! She learned that from me! It’s also true that I feel just the smallest bit of envy for the hours of fellowship Dan and Col share in BB gun shooting competitions (This just in: Col is in the lead. What?). I ask the kids, dangling snazzy seed packets in front of them: Who wants to help me plant the fall cold frames? And when they apologetically opt to jump on the neighbor’s trampoline, I feel the merest bit of disappointment. And yet, my truest wish for my children is that they wake up curious every day. That they find wholesome things to which they can joyfully devote their time. That they feel free to search and find their own meaning in life. The particulars are none of my business.

I think of my friend who gave birth to a boy, who at 4-years old made it very clear that inside where no one could see, he felt like a girl. He needed his family’s help to become a girl on the outside, too. His parents cried and researched and discussed, and then they did the next right and hard thing: they bought their daughter dresses and hair clips, switched pronouns, and observed her new, chosen name. Our children’s dreams may not be our own, but this family’s courage, acceptance and love will always light a spark of inspiration in my heart.


Col came into our room at a dark and early hour this morning. I lifted the covers on my right (saving room for Rose’s eventual arrival on my left) and he nestled down like the professional snuggler he is. We held each other and I breathed in his boy-scent and we talked about airplane design. He told me about ailerons and elevators, lift and drag. He was excited and I was excited for him, and I felt certain that all was absolutely right.



20 Responses leave one →
  1. Andrea permalink
    October 9, 2014

    your homeschool group sounds like a dream come true.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      October 9, 2014

      Andrea, it’s truly a special thing. I want my own for middle aged mothers.

  2. October 9, 2014

    this is lovely….. and I can’t believe how big Col is and how much he looks like Dan. Oh my!

  3. October 9, 2014

    Oh so beautiful, Rachel. This is something we need to be reminded over and over again… It is so easy to judge our children’s interest, look down on them and make them feel inappropriate. I want my girls to know that the most important thing is to follow what makes your heart sings… And I watch and listen and bathe in their joy and sparkly eyes…

  4. Molly permalink
    October 9, 2014

    So true, what you say, and we have all the hairclips, jewelry, pink leggings and cookie sprinkles to prove it. And also this: She tells me the longest story (a retelling about some terrible, trite video) I cannot get interested in, and I wrap myself in the familiar shawl of feigning interest but only hearing bits, really. Then something gets through that catches me and when she pauses the story, I prompt, “And then what happened?” They change us, the same way other people do.

  5. October 9, 2014

    I just love you Rachel and I love your writing! From a very sleep deprived mother.

  6. October 9, 2014

    Beautiful! I say to myself of a daily basis, “My children are their own people, they are not me.” It’s hard to deal with sometimes but so beautiful to watch them become who they want to be.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      October 9, 2014

      Yes! The becoming is beautiful.

  7. nan permalink
    October 9, 2014

    Rachel, I wish every child could grow up in a home like yours. I know some times (a lot of times ) parenting is f—ing hard. You and Dan are doing a great job !

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      October 10, 2014

      Yes, f-ing hard is right. I had to apologize twice to Rose this morning. Luckily, apologies go a long way in this house.

  8. Laura permalink
    October 10, 2014

    Reading this post started my day out just right! Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful perfectly imperfect world.

  9. Jo Hadley permalink
    October 10, 2014

    Martha died?? Did I miss that post? I know all her babies died but I hadn’t heard that headline news. I’m sorry for Rose and glad to hear about your ceremony and moving on to Mae. :)

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      October 10, 2014

      Sweet Jo, you didn’t miss anything. This was the first mention of Martha’s death. She actually died of fright. A terrier (bred to hunt rats!) stared her down and that was it. Super sad. But, we love Mae and only accidentally call her Martha 50% of the time.

  10. Alanya permalink
    October 10, 2014

    Ha! Your line “the intersection of our interests is a stark place with lots of open seats” wonderfully describes my life with three males. Thank goodness for books and cuddles, huh?

  11. October 12, 2014

    You are so right. I want my children to be who they really are and move in the direction of things that bring them joy. They are not always the things we expect. Sometimes its hard but it is so the right thing to do x

  12. October 12, 2014

    Just desire to say your article is as astonishing. The clearness in your submit is
    just excellent and that i could think you’re an expert in this subject.
    Fine together with your permission let me
    to take hold of your feed to keep updated
    with forthcoming post. Thanks 1,000,000 and please keep
    up the gratifying work.

  13. Erin permalink
    October 22, 2014

    This is lovely. I am struggling with setting good examples for my sons lately. I recently got a divorce, because after 16 years of hiding the fact I was gay was too much for my soul to handle. I’m trying to show my boys that it’s okay to be who you really are. My 7 year old son loves to wear dresses and for a long time, chose to keep it a secret. We’ve been talking about being authentic and loving ourselves lately. Today, during a playdate, he pulled out his rainbow leggings and shared his dresses with the sweet girl we had over. My heart beams that he’s slowly feeling comfortable enough to share who he truly is. xoxo

  14. Carolina permalink
    October 27, 2014

    I keep meaning to comment to say that this post reminds me of this poem, which I learned because a friend of mine raised in a charmingly hippie communal situation taught me a song version of it that her parents and the others in the community used to sing all the time during her childhood. I hum it to myself all the time as a reminder.

    On Children
    Kahlil Gibran

    Your children are not your children.
    They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
    They come through you but not from you,
    And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

    You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
    For they have their own thoughts.
    You may house their bodies but not their souls,
    For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
    which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
    You may strive to be like them,
    but seek not to make them like you.
    For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

    You are the bows from which your children
    as living arrows are sent forth.
    The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
    and He bends you with His might
    that His arrows may go swift and far.
    Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
    For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
    so He loves also the bow that is stable.

  15. November 8, 2014

    Rachel this view into your lives is wonderful, it makes me miss Durango.

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

%d bloggers like this: