About five years ago, when my oldest daughter was two, I wanted to take her to the park. I was anxious to get her there as fast as I could because I only had a couple of hours to spare before I had to be somewhere. As I was hustling her to the car, she bent down and picked up a rock—you know how kids kind of squat so their tail end is almost touching the ground? I just kept telling her, "Come on, we gotta go, we gotta go." It didn't occur to me that she was discovering something right then.
My parents were very aware that letting kids discover things for themselves is as important as anything you can teach them. My mother and father let me come to music on my own and supported my ambition to pursue it. As a child, I had an infinite number of piano competitions, performances, and lessons. What I realize now is the commitment that took on the part of my parents. I look back on the endless hours they waited for me to finish my lessons. Being a father has taught me so much about what my parents did for me; it seems obvious, but I don't believe I appreciated it until I had kids of my own.
The day I attempted to rush my daughter to that park made me stop and think about how I want to handle things as a parent. I realized I don't need to push my girls in any one direction; they'll figure things out. And it means more to them when they discover things for themselves—as opposed to getting information crammed down their throats. My kids take piano lessons, they play soccer, but at the same time, I want to let them find their own way.
My daughter and I didn't end up going to the park that day, we just hung out in the driveway looking at rocks.