If we’re not careful, our parenting can be based on certain expectations and impressions. Sometimes we think of our child in one way – “athlete” or “drummer” – and just miss the other ways they might choose to be.
My middle son, Justin, is a natural athlete and loves football, basketball and baseball. Always fond of uniforms (he started with a Batman costume), he identifies most strongly with this role as a varsity high school athlete. And in thinking about my football player, I realized that, while he may be an athlete, it is also true that he is very creative.
He has always been an artist – even though he doesn’t like the term. So I’m careful not to call him one. Instead, I’ve framed and hung eight of his pictures and photos in our home (from kindergarten through high school) – my subtle way of supporting him. I hoped he would notice – and he did! “Mom,” he said recently, “I have more art hanging in the house than anyone else.”
Music and rhythm also seemed to come naturally to him. When he was little, Justin was drumming on everything – from his chest (really cool) – to the furniture. In middle school, he took a course in World Percussion and when he got bored with the hand drums, we bought him a drum set (and ear phones – see my post: Rum-pa-pum-pum) and found some lessons with a teacher nearby.
This was a really creative and collaborative time for all of our kids – Justin was playing the drums, Danny was playing the electric guitar, and their sister, Erika, was playing the electric bass. They would jam in our basement – sometimes before homework was started – and my husband and I would join them to listen or play the tambourine. Their grandparents were often there and sometimes played along too!
The kids have all moved on now and that’s what happens: Justin doesn’t play the drums; Danny is away at college; and Erika is focused on sports. As parents, we learn to embrace (a bit mournfully) all that change. I’ve even told Justin that change is a good thing. And maybe I just believe myself a little.
But I’ll admit that I am sad that Justin isn’t drumming anymore. While his red drum set sits patiently waiting for him in the basement, I began to wonder if his musical days were over.
And then, a few months ago, I was surprised to learn that my “athlete,” my “drummer” Justin, also has a beautiful singing voice. He auditioned for and was chosen to be part of one of four A Cappella groups at his high school. He is using his rhythm skills to beat-box for the group on many songs – and he is deciding which song to choose for his solo.
I can’t wait to see what Justin does next. I don’t know what it will be, but I do know that he will continue to surprise me with his creativity.
Note: Justin turns 17 years old today! Happy Birthday Justin!