The seventeenth-century political philosopher John Locke said that human beings are born as tabulae rasae - blank slates. It's the reason why I find the prospect of raising a child alternately terrifying and exhilarating.
Terrifying are the responsiblities involved in educating this person-in-progress, and the unwillingness to cause irreparable damage to a blank state. Yet at the same time, the idea that the world is being reinvented every day through our newborn's eyes is truly exhilarating. There's a danger that the overwhelming parental pride and ego will exaggerate the uniqueness of the experience, yet the world is indeed reborn each day when a new person discovers it.
Stanley Baldwin is usually credited with saying that "Power without responsibility -- the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages", but what he didn't mention is the flipside that responsiblity without power is the bugbear of the parent throughout the ages.
Paradoxically, there is so much and yet so little we can control over the development of our children. No amount of neo-natal Mozart music will make TR Thibault a classical pianist if he or she is actually tone-deaf. But perhaps lack of exposure to say, painting or literature would delay development or at least appreciation of fine arts?
There's a twist to this too - How do you know what your kid is really going to want anyway?
My parents gave me the chance to learn the piano, but I was much more keen on horse-riding. It doesn't bug me today that I cannot remember anything of those hundreds of hours of music lessons, but it annoys me like heck that Fabien is always going to have better horsemanship than me because he was cantering around when I was still learning to play scales. The knowledge that very little I can do in my adult life can ever change that lack of early childhood learning, is something that I want to remember when we raise our own kid. The million dollar question (as always) is HOW?
I think part of the key must lie in a general willingness to experiment, and therefore being open to failing and making mistakes. I guess my parents were not keen to let me take equestrian sports seriously because you can't break your ankle by falling off a piano stool. But even if I did - I doubt it would have changed anything..