Natural Ability Is Inborn
And Out Of Your Control
At the writing of this post, my wife and I have been married over forty years. It’s been a great ride. Lots of memorable moments and some of the best of those memories revolve around our children. We were blessed with two. Both boys.
The first was born a year and a day after we were married and the second was born three and a half years after the first.
And I must say, we could never have anticipated the nature of our kids. We tried. We visualized stardom in many ways but the visuals are long gone and they turned out quite different. They are both grown men now and we are still discovering new things about each one. And we are open to this. We now watch comfortably while they cycle through personal developments.
In the early years, however, we didn’t have this wisdom. They were different to each other – and our expectations – and we weren’t always sure how to interpret this.
One son, our oldest, wasn’t a star athlete but on a personal level he was engaging and a great conversationalist. It was incredible. He never lacked for friends.
He was a quick study too. Never had problems in the classroom.
People were drawn to him. When he was around there was always a group and a discussion. He was comfortable with himself and had the ability to make others feel comfortable too. He was charming and disarming.
The most amazing thing is he was always open with us. There was nothing he was afraid to talk about with Mom or Dad. If he had a problem, he would find a way to mention it. He was never the quiet withdrawn teen that many parents struggle with. He not only did what we asked, he believed what we said without question. He assumed we knew what we were talking about. What a pleasure.
Our second son, however, was different. He was quiet. He listened to us and usually did what we asked but he also like to figure things out for himself, which means he would gently push a boundary occasionally just to test the theory.
We know now that it wasn’t rebellion but we weren’t sure about that at the time.
And he didn’t talk about it either. When the four of us had a conversation he listened a lot. He was so quiet we would almost forget he was there. Even questions aimed directly at him didn’t really spur much of a response. We learned never to ask anything that could be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.”
We weren’t sure how to interpret this. Did he have a bad attitude? Did he feel left out? Was he shallow? We even questioned our parenting skills. Were we lacking something?
We didn’t know the answers to those questions. We weren’t even sure which ones applied, so we were never quite sure what to do about it.
Any efforts to try and draw him out were met with consternation. He didn’t like it and closed off even more.
Again, I don’t want to paint the wrong picture. He wasn’t living on the dark side. As I said, he usually did what we asked. There were a few childhood hiccups, which we accepted as normal. The problem was we never seemed to connect.
We loved both kids equally but you couldn’t tell that by looking. The difference in personal interaction mileage between the two was noticeable. We engaged the one often. The other not so much. Any onlooker would easily guess the oldest son was our favorite.
But, one day something unusual happened. At the time it didn’t seem life changing but looking back it was monumental.
It involved a guitar.
The second son asked if he could learn to play mine and I said, “yea, why not?”
The guitar had been around for several years and was very lonely. I played it little and was glad for it to get some use. I also had several “teach yourself how to play” books gathering dust so his request cost me nothing.
He collected the guitar and books and went to his room. I forgot about it.
That is, until he wrote and sung his first song. It didn’t happen right away but once it started it never stopped. He’s now written and recorded over a hundred songs and still going and we are listening a lot.
Some songs were playful and fun. Some were philosophical but each one had a message. Some spoke to popular issues. Many spoke directly to us. Finally, it was like he was talking and we were connecting.
We also discovered that he spent hours writing thoughts and ideas in exercise books when we weren’t around. There are piles of them. He’s let us read a few and through that we learned a lot about him.
It’s not surprising that he’s also written a book. And you guessed it. We loved it and passed it around to friends.
It’s taken many years but through this process we have confirmed to ourselves the many truths we’ve all heard before:
- Don’t stereotype your kids. They’re all individuals. Don’t measure them by your other kids or anyone else.
- Discover your kids. Each one is a surprise. Feed THEIR passion when you discover it, don’t impose yours on them. Treat them like presents to unwrap one layer at a time.
- Don’t treat your kids the same. One might enjoy talking. Another might not. Treating them all the same is one way to abuse who they are and what they need.
- Each child and his or her inborn abilities is a gift from God. Enabling them to be who they are is your gift to them.
We are still learning. We’ll never stop being parents but . . .
The important question is, who is our favorite son? The answer is simple. Whichever one happens to be talking at any given moment.