It was late, but I could still hear him in his bedroom humming and tapping his fingers to the beat in his head. Every once in a while I heard a sigh as pencil scribbled on paper, and I knew what he was up to – he was making music.
My son loves to write songs. They’re sweet and innocent right now, often written to the tunes of songs he already knows. But the process of penning melodic poetry excites him…and it excites me, too. A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a Songwriters Journal in a local boutique, and I picked it up, intending to give it to him for Christmas. But on this night, I simply couldn’t wait.
I carried the journal into his room and handed it to him, and his eyes lit up. He rolled it around in his hands like a treasure, and it felt right giving this gift so early, because this boy has the touch of a gift. As his mom, I’m enjoying mining that gift.
It’s hard, raising these little people. I know that’s not an earth shattering statement, but it is true. Raising kids is a big job!
Sometimes, we may even need to give them a little push.
This is a tricky tightrope to walk with children. Because sometimes we see a talent inside those little ones that they don’t yet appreciate or understand, and so we give them a little nudge in the direction of their giftedness. But when do we stop nudging, and let them choose?
Some children can be quickly and easily pegged. They have a natural gift, and a passion for that skill, and so allowing them to pursue their passion is a no-brainer. But what about the child who doesn’t know? What of the young one who is waffling, unable to grasp that blissful balance of passion and talent? What do you do then?
It’s true that some kids will simply be well-rounded. They possess a number of different skills, and inside each talent they’ll find a measure of success. Perhaps they’ll never be the best at any one thing, but they’ll be good at a lot of things. This is wonderful, and should be welcomed and celebrated.
And then there are the children who simply can’t decide. This is the case with my musically gifted boy. Naturally talented in a lot of areas, he doesn’t have a passion for any one thing. He enjoys school, but academics don’t bring him great joy. He likes sports, but he’s not overly competitive, so he dabbles in them for fun.
It’s only when he’s playing music that I see a genuine spark of delight in his eye. There’s something about rhythm and sound, about the melody of a well-turned phrase that makes his heart skip a beat. I see it…but he doesn’t.
This is a child who would be happy and willing to coast on natural ability if I let him. But natural ability can only take one so far, so my job as his mom is to push him. I’m guiding and pushing, both at the same time.
When Thomas Edison was a young boy, he was sent asked to leave school for being dull and “addled” (mentally ill). Easily distracted, and seemingly uninterested in learning, Nancy Edison believed her boy to be more than he had been labeled by his teachers. So she brought him home, and she taught him herself, guiding him toward the academic pursuits that brought a spark to his spirit.
When writing of his mother as a grown man, Thomas Edison wrote, “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.”
Where would this world be if Nancy Elliott Edison hadn’t seen beyond her son’s weaknesses and straight into his strengths? Where would we be if a mother hadn’t guided and pushed her boy onto the path that she saw in his future?
You see the good in them, and you see what lacks, and you have the power to mold them. This is daunting, yes. But it’s also beautiful.
So keep on mining, digging beneath the surface to unearth the treasures inside those little ones you hold so dear. You are the making of each child in your care. You can be sure of this…and so can they.