My children belong to me.

So I have been watching Grey’s Anatomy like a stupid alcohol addict. I know, I need AA meetings already. And maybe a handler. I’ll get to all that in due time, thanks for the love and concern.

It all began when I attended the TV Writing Masterclass at the Lagos Film Academy a few weeks ago. So the screenplay for Grey’s Anatomy was one of our study materials, and we got the chance to see Episode 1 in class. That was the little drop in my life that birthed this ocean of addiction.

Sweet sweet show, by the way.

Sweet sweet show, by the way.

I am on Season 6 as we speak. No, it hasn’t even been three weeks yet. Yes, I have work. No, I don’t sleep at night, but you know this already. Somehow, I have been able to find time and love in my heart for Grey’s Anatomy, plus extra hearty toppings for Shonda Rhimes (everyone who knows me well knows about my love for Shonda, hey I even shamelessly borrowed got  her ‘Year of Yes’ book from Jade Osiberu, which I am currently reading when I am not watching Grey’s Anatomy or trying to meet a work deadline or trying to figure out the circle of life.)

Anyway, this article isn’t necessarily about my latest addiction. It is about a part of it, somewhere in Season 5, where Callie Torres’s father swaggers into Seattle Grace Hospital and offers to transfer Callie to St. Mary’s in Miami after learning she is in a same-sex relationship. He even offers the Chief a blank cheque to make the transfer happen, and when Chief Richard Weber replies with “Callie is a grown woman”, he immediately concludes that Richard has no children of his own -which is correct- because if he did, he would never say a person’s child is a grown man. Or woman. A child is a child, full stop.

Long story short, Callie refuses to leave, and because her father is loaded, he threatens her with a withdrawal of her trust fund and a promise to cut her off. She says he should go to hell with his money, and he does, or at least returns to Mexico, or is it Miami. And Callie would come to suffer for her choice.

The take-home here for me is how possessive Papa Torres felt over his daughter, saying if you become a parent, no matter how old a child grows, they are still your child, and you would have to do whatever you can to protect them. I do not disagree with this. However, Papa Torres may have taken it to the extreme, and so have many parents.

Your child is yours, but they do not ‘belong’ to you. They are gifts, and you are custodians, to help nurture them in the path already set for them by the One who gave them to you. You cannot decide for them how their lives should pan out. You can suggest, you can guide, you can influence, but you cannot force them down your desired path. That is not protection, that is fraud.

Some parents go as far as threatening with disowning. Or, like Papa Torres, cutting you off from money supply. Well, keep your shiny wads of dollar bills. If you have done a fine job of training your child in making healthy decisions, there comes a point where you need to back off and trust that they can lead their own lives too. Imagine, for one second, that as you’re trying your best to control your child’s future, your living parent is somewhere still trying to control how you control your child’s future. That’s a truck load of controls right there, keep that vehicle far from my street please.

So no, your children are not like your car, or your house, or your vacuum cleaner. They are human, with purposes, thoughts, strengths and destinies. According to poet Kahlil Gibran, your child comes through you, but not from you. You may give them your love, but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts.

Arggh!

Arggh!

Stop trying to fulfill your life’s purpose through your child. That you wanted to become a barrister but failed does not automatically indicate that your child must be called to bar. That you are in finance does not confer upon your child a knack for numbers. Stop projecting your achievements or frustrations upon them. They are not work tools created to serve your narcissism. They are human, unique individuals who should be allowed to make their own paths.

Phew!

This is the word for today.