The weight of personal history

The trouble with having such a deep knowledge of my family history is I find I must bite my tongue when my kids speak casually of their interests. I have no desire to bog them down with the weight of our history.

When my kid says she’d like to grow up to be a dancer I want to say, “Like your great aunt.”

50s Hermine ballet538

When they learn to ice skate and say they can never do it I want to say, “But your grandmother became quite good at it living outside of Chicago.”

59 March, IL, MC skating206

When they tell me they love swimming, I want to tell them of their great-grandmother and how she swam laps every morning.

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When my daughter says she wants to grow up to be an actor or director, I glance at the posters of my father’s shows framed in our home.

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Daniel Chardin publicity 1950s

When they say they like to sing, I have no need to tell them Cherubino and Carmen are part of the legacy.

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I’ll wait to tell them. Wait to show them the reams of photographs. Let them explore their interests without the weight of that knowledge.

I always felt a bit sorry for the children of the celebrities I knew. All of that privilege and opportunity but they’re not allowed to fail — no opportunity to play in the sandbox.

No room for failure is like a form of prison for creative people.

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