What will he be when he grows up?
Seems like a stupid question.
Of course the royal baby is going to be a King. The new baby born to joyful parents William and Kate today has a certain projected future that only death will preclude a destiny of sovereignty over these green and beautiful lands of Great Britain.
As we focus our attention on this child born to royal parents, the fascination is partly because of this pre-ordained destiny of the child. Think of other “royal babies” Jesus, David and the like. Of course, life can and does have unforeseen twists and turns. This royal baby could be like his great-great uncle and decide to abdicate responsibilities and give up his royal duties. He could be like his late Grandmother and die young in a tragic accident. He could be like his Grandfather and be relatively old and still not on the throne. There may be an unlikely political uprising and the royal family de-throned. Whatever apparent choices or events that shape his future, whatever he does or does not do with the expectations put upon him, the fact remains that we can already put fairly secure bets on what kind of a future is ahead of him. It’s a strange paradox of life: we can predict a lot and we cannot be sure of anything.
And royal babies aside, every baby is special and every baby is born into a certain future and range of possibilities. What has your child been born to expect? What sort of future (as much as can be seen) will he or she have? We may believe that the future is wide open, but already your child is rather like the royal baby – to a large degree, his or her future is already mapped. Look at all the genes and conditioning, the physical shape and form, the cultural environment and the societal expectations your child is born into. All of that will, from the very first breath of life contribute and determine what his or her future looks like.
It makes me wonder about my children, what expectations do I have of them and what future is already determined for them? In my case, that they are white, Anglo Saxon, English speaking and middle class with university educated parents already puts a huge limitation on their freedom. With that conditioning we can predict a lot. And we cannot be sure of anything, perhaps one of them will go off have a nomadic Bedouin life in Arabia (even if he does look cute in an outfit I brought back from Kuwait)?
I remember visiting some friends a while ago whom I had not seen for a few years. In the time since I’d last been with them a new member of their family had been born. They were telling me of the characters and personalities of their youngest child, and I was shocked that although he was still very young, they had quite definite ideas of what the child would be when they grew up. I was idealistically thinking that of course the future a blank slate, it is wide open, this child can and must be able to grow up to be whatever they want…upon reflection I’m not so sure.A tiny tiny percentage of children like mine may well go off for a life in the desert, but you get my drift, it’s near impossible. This is a perennial question for parents. Are the possibilites of life wide and open for my children or are they limited in what they can do? Obviously I can’t predict my child will be a Queen when she grows up, the same way Kate Middleton’s mum would not have been able to predict it for her daughter. Yet, there is already a certain sense of a projected future.
When you really look at it, all children are limited into a certain projected future. Some of the children I have worked with have additional needs, are in foster care or have physical challenges and of course their futures will be shaped by those conditions. It raises the question: can we help those children overcome any limitations and not be hemmed in by those events that life had placed upon them?
As a parent, maybe it is my job to point out to my children that like the royal baby they have a certain amount of environmental and genetic conditioning. A certain projected future. Maybe it is my job to help me explore with my children that whatever their genes and conditioning they have, life will play out strange twists and turns that cannot be predicted or controlled. We may love (or hate) the fact that the royal baby is destined to be the future king of England and we can remain open to the fact that he may not.