I have discovered in myself very ambivalent feelings about what kind of child I would like to have. Intellectually I highly value intelligence, creativity, autonomy, self-directedness, but I have sometimes found of their manifestations in everyday life highly unpleasant to live with. One example. About a year ago we decided to get rid of our TV set. One reason was that Anne, just turned 4, seemed in danger of becoming addicted to it. Although we continued to restrict severely what she could watch, our restrictions were becoming a daily battleground with her.
One year later, both my husband and I are both convinced that both children has benefited greatly from its elimination. Their dramatic and imaginative play, to take but one example, has blossomed. Some days, however, when I observe what their rich fantasy play has done to our living room, I wonder if creativity is compatible with apartment living.
Sometimes I fear what I really want is intensely individualistic, creative children, who will never embarrass me in public, who will convince elderly ladies in the elevator that I am the perfect mother.
In New York City, I am never in private. I don’t have a car to hide in when the kids are out of control. I live on the 20th floor. That elevator ride can feel like hours.