“Where I am going is irrelevant.”

August 27, 2014
Notable Stats
Blind Distance Recognition (BDR) – The area by which a child realizes that if they leave it, they will be too far from their parents. For 95% of boys, age 5 -7, this number starts at infinity.
False Leadership Compass Attraction Rate (FLCAR) – A measure of magnetism of a child to appear to know where they are going as a function of how directionless they actually are. 

Our son is gone. Poof. Like a mosquito in a tornado, as soon as his feet hit the ground, he takes off. It matters not the direction of his rocket like propulsion. He will definitively head out in a near sprint to nowhere in particular.

It does register to him, that the person first and ahead of a pack of people, defaults to the leader. Like it or not, the masses have to follow you when you “going together,” even if the lead member is running off into the black hole of oblivion. If for nothing else you need to at least have the awareness that they may be following you to bring you back since you are now 8 blocks off course. He does love the title of “leader” and disturbingly enjoys the bliss of not having to know that leadership entails more than being the first person to get to the STOP sign at the end of the block. Especially when that STOP sign is three blocks in the wrong direction.

For example, one must actually know where they are going to lead effectively. Simple enough concept. They must be able to lead the pack to a destination, one that a family usually has mapped out in a family meeting before they got on that train to New York City. A leader must pay attention to the people he or she is leading out of concern for their safety and as a responsibility to their reliance on your leadership. They are not, however, there to watch you finish first and shower medals and awards onto you for “winning” a race that never existed but in your own mind.
So I spend much of our excursions to unsafe yet exciting cities like New York, staring at the faceless back of my son’s head. Corralling, coaxing, grabbing, sequestering, and in a moment of sanity, contemplating “leashing.”
Upon reaching our destination after two train rides and a mass exodus of Grand Central Station, my son saw a lady in the store holding a leash attached to her daughter’s backpack. He was viscerally and openly offended by this act of imprisonment. Quoting some unknown philosopher about only learning to enjoy the fruits of freedom by being free and making good decisions. I told him that I understand the Bill of Rights philosophy, however I also understand the sheer exhaustion of telling a mini-being to not go up that escalator for the 365th time in twelve minutes.
“Stay with the group.” “Wait for your family.” “Walk behind me.” “Hold hands.” 
Then it dawns on us as parents that I could have done this expensive and highly insane travel exercise in our basement and used those quotes on the cement walls or on the foundation of our house. Same impact.
On a few occasions, I would test my son. In a safe environment, I would let him go first to see how far he goes before he realizes he has absolutely no idea where he is going. See how far he goes before he looks back. On a flight to LA, our seats were in the back of the plane near the bathroom. I waited for him, we came out together, I let him go for it. He took off like a confident shot and made it to First Class, 40 rows before he realized that he should check his constantly broken GPS. Hmmm.
I appreciate the go-getter attitude, the swagger, the competitive spirit that everything must be done to win and be first, even when you are only racing yourself. However, this does not line up that well when you are 4 feet tall and playing this ignorant game in Times Square and there are 6 million people on each block trampling you.
I don’t fully expect him to understand the dangers of the world, nor do I always want him to see evil so soon in life, but safety is safety.
Maybe there will come a day when our son will lead our family in a way that is competent and measured, but right now, he just needs to follow until he learns where he is in the map of life or at the very least, learn how to read Google Maps and hold hands.
- Doug Glanville
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