I stared at the blank page for twenty minutes. Little chance of any thoughts forming into articulate sentences, not with the pulsating music from the next room where Son #1 sat working on a new song.
He'd been at it for hours. Sigh. At least one of us was a writing wiz tonight.
He hasn't been a devoted musician all his life. He flirted with piano and guitar lessons when he was very young, but he soon grew tired of practicing and I grew tired of nagging. He abandoned the interest in music and moved on to other things, one after the other.
And so it goes with so many childhood activities.
Between my two sons, we dabbled in nearly every kind of lesson and organized activity on God's green and synthetic-floored earth. We tried music: piano, guitar, clarinet and choir. We played sport after sport: gymnastics, swimming, soccer, baseball, basketball, football, weightlifting and rowing. We ran through the endless gamut of school clubs, from Power of the Pen to Quizbowl. We gave art lessons a shot and took part in a dozen plays. We enrolled in weeks and weeks of summer camps, ranging from glass-blowing to horseback riding (which resulted in lots and lots of envy from their office-dwelling mother).
We exhausted every available creative, academic and athletic opportunity in which our children took a trifling interest--and exhausted the family minivan and its driver along the way. We filled our children's days with sidelines and structure, yet ensured they still found time to play with Legos, read Harry Potter and watch Star Wars.
We wanted them to learn the meaning of discipline and teamwork. We wanted them to exercise their body and their brains. We wanted them to grow up well-rounded.
But mostly we hoped, through their exploring the world around them, they would find something--that one special thing--that struck them straight in the heart. And we were compelled to help them discover it.
What if Beethoven never touched a piano? Or if Steve Jobs never sat down to a computer?
Even so, as we exposed our children to all these opportunities, we never knew what might stick for good. Who could really guess what might be a passing fancy, become a lifelong hobby or lead to a fruitful career?
It's difficult to categorize these two young adult sons of mine. At 20 and 22, they both have an interest in history and the Beatles (thank God). They each love a pick-up football game but enjoy an occasional theatrical production, as well. They did indeed grow up to be well-rounded.
But as far as that one special thing? That much is still proving to be a surprise.
My son who once far preferred making music to playing sports now rows in college; he talks of coaching. The son who spent most of his youth on the ballfield has recaptured a brief childhood interest in music and sits right now in the next room, perfecting a song on his keyboard.
Who knows where their lives will truly take them. Maybe further along these same tracks, or maybe down another. What's for certain is, if we'd labeled them and limited them early on, they wouldn't be enjoying the lives they have now.
And the beautiful strains of music from the next room tonight? Maybe not such a terrible distraction after all, for either of us.
Perhaps all those miles on that minivan, long since retired, were well worth it.
Did you follow your early childhood dreams or go another route? Are you raising the next Beethoven or Steve Jobs? Is your minivan worn out too?