Continuing with my 30 Days of Gratitude, I am thankful for the moment of realizing that my kids can do so much more than I ever could.
Day #16 – Now I am the Master!
Anyone with kids marvels watching them grow and make progress and hit milestones … and against all logic we are all filled with feelings of joy and awe as though our children were the first ever to roll over, crawl, walk, talk, use the potty, and so on.
It is painful watching them fail, difficult seeing them struggle, never enjoyable realizing their limitations of aptitude or interest, and agonizing seeing them in any type of pain.
While it is funny to laugh at Garrison Keillor and the notion that “all the children are above average”, the reality is that when we look at our kids in their first real school class (Kindergarten or first grade), for most skills there will be as many kids better than your child than there are those who are worse. Of course, reading Facebook or blogs (or web forums) you will get a very different impression.
By contrast there are few happier moments than seeing your child achieve something by themselves, seeing them interacting with others in a way that is truly their own, displaying their unique talents and passions in a way that shows them moving beyond simply following your lead and their school requirements and breaking into their own.
I found the picture below going through the drawer in my bedside table … and to be honest in spite of it being from March 1999 – it feels like it could be from yesterday. But at the same time that picture seems like eons ago – because while they will always be my babies, I now have two great young men with a lot to offer the world.
Amanda posted some thoughts for her 49th birthday a couple of weeks ago, and amongst those was “Your kids can teach you more than you can teach them”. And I so totally agree with that – and not so much because they are more skilled at everything (though that is true in some areas), but that they are like us in many ways but are their own people, and because we watch them differently than we watch others, and because they cause us to be open to life in ways nothing else can.
Over the last couple of weeks I have been able to witness things from my kids that not only made me proud as a parent, but also reminded me of how talented they have become and how passionate they are in their areas of interest.
Chris worked as DJ at Macy’s last weekend. This is nothing new – he has done it several times in the past. And even though he couldn’t get paid this time and didn’t know if it would get credit for Honor Society service (it was a Salvation Army tree-lighting event), he did it anyway.
He is a pretty awesome DJ and it is always a blast watching him work. But at one point we were walking over and he was playing one of his own compositions – a cool techno electronica piece that is deep and complex. We were starting to ask him about his song choice when we realized there was someone there enjoying it – in fact, there was a gentleman who had asked Chris to play some of his own music and was totally enjoying it.
They had a great chat and it was wonderful to see Chris as a mature musician and artist discussing his art with someone he had never met before, digging into musical details and structures. Chris has always amazed me with how he looks at time and sound and textures of tonality, it was just great being able to step outside of our normal interactions and hear someone else reflect on what he does.
These recent weeks have been rather busy and stressful between the end of marching band and state championships, normal school stress, and … Danny getting in his early decision NYU application. Because he is applying to the Tisch school to study film, he had to do a film as his portfolio.
Here is the title screen:
The film had a depth and flow that was simply stunning. It was a mature work that was moving, the dialogue made sense in a real way, the observations and insights in a 9 minute film were deep and non-trivial and worth hearing, and the sense of emotion and connection were just stunning.
While I have done enough music that I can fully appreciate what Chris is doing even as his talent and working skills have outstripped mine, Danny is working in an area I have never really touched. I did some soundtrack work for friends ages ago, but I don’t see myself as much of a photographer, let alone a film maker. Chris helped with the cinematography, and it was really incredible seeing the artistic vision discussions between the two of them.
When our kids are young and they make some art or get an award or perform a recital, we are so proud of what they are doing – and I know many readers have kids in that age group where they are really just starting to come into their own, or just showing off the ability to be an independent person. It is really great, and are the early steps on their journey.
What I have seen recently is an evolution of that – it is the beginning of adulthood, where what they are doing is no longer associated with being our kids and being tied to schools, but instead is part of where they are going with the rest of their lives and how they will get there. And it was magical to behold.
And if there is any more of a tear-jerker song as a father … I have no idea what it is …