My mom wanted me to be an attorney. She was so sure I was meant to be an attorney, because all tests pointed to yes, that she decided what school I would go to and what I would major in. Well it only took me a few months of college to realize that once you are there you are on your own and your mom can’t say boo about it. So that is when my college dance began. Unable to make decisions about what career I might be interested in the first 18 years of my life, I began to seek out interests. Anything that appealed to me in the course catalog became a possibility. Photography, psychology, ceramics, art history, earth science, renaissance and medieval history, literary criticism, art therapy, were all on my radar, and some were even my majors for a while. I transferred colleges 4 times, graduated in 6 1/2 years, and wound up with a mish-mosh degree that couldn’t get me a job anywhere but in retail (no offense to those of you in retail, I actually co-own a retail store now, but that’s a story for another day).
I promised myself I wouldn’t make that same mistake with my child. I swore I would let him explore his creativity. I was so adamant that I realized finally, I was forcing him to explore his creativity. Or at least my version of what creativity was.
I think our biggest challenge as parents is to really, truly, let our children’s gifts shine. Especially when we don’t understand those gifts. It is hard to nurture and encourage something you don’t understand. And on the flip side, when we know perfectly well what those gifts are and don’t like the direction they point our child in. I think my mom fell in the latter category. I think we have the same gifts. However that doesn’t change the fact that she still believes the gifts we were both given are somewhat lacking. This gift being creativity, an artistic and elastic mind. She pushed hers down very deep, and got an MBA. I couldn’t get it to go so far…and so I waffled.
It’s funny. He’s gifted. Everyone thinks he should be/will be an actor. An entertainer. A musician. Some sort of public figure. He is the life of the party. The center of attention. It seems so plain. To me. To us. To him? Maybe not. Just because he can make you laugh, isn’t afraid to speak in front of a group of adults, that doesn’t mean his destiny is to do that in the way we see it. My son, the boy, he loves to figure out things. Things I don’t get. He is now, as we speak, watching YouTube videos of rocket launches. I get boys who love rockets. He’s not so interested in space as he is in combustion. In electricity. In steam engines. In lighthouses. In famous shipwrecks. I have often worried about that (the combustion part), now I see there may actually be an application for that particular interest. How to foster it? It’s not exactly my forte, however I will do my best. Because even though that’s not what I thought he would be, what maybe I “wanted” him to be. Right now that’s what he wants to be.