When my son was 18 months old, he and his best friend were playing in our backyard. while my dear friend and I were enjoying a much anticipated glass of wine and a rare adult conversation a few feet away on the patio.
With an array of bright plastic toys around him, my son, Robert, picked up a stick about his size, and began to play with it.
I heard all sorts of cautious mom voices rattling around in my lizard brain: “He is going to poke an eye out.” “He could hurt himself, or someone else.” “Ick, that must be dirty.” My mind diligently chattered along. Fortunately for him, the chardonnay and precious time with my girlfriend was delightful enough to overpower the voices. I chose to ignore his brandishing the stick to avoid the inevitable argument that would follow if I attempted to pry the stick from his determined 18 month old hands.
In no time at all, his buddy Mathew appeared and began eyeballing the stick.
We could see what was about to happen, but had no idea what I was about to discover.
In a matter of 60 seconds or so, Robert had the stick above his shoulder looking like a young Babe Ruth swinging for the fences.. We giggled as we watched him pretend to play baseball and talked about how someday the boys would be playing on ‘real' teams.
A moment or two later, Mathew picked up a similar stick. Assuming he was going to join Robert’s imaginary Worlds Series game, we watched eagerly to see who would hit the scoring run.
However, much to our surprise, when Mathew picked up the stick, he saw a different tool. Rather than get in the game, he began to play the guitar. He jammed out like the next Bruce Springsteen and played gleefully while his buddy hit imaginary balls over the fence.
Once again we giggled in delight at their innate and playful nature. We went on with our girl time, enjoying our wine and our precious carefree little boys playing with sticks.
The years in between have been filled with baseball teams, music lessons, art classes and much more for both of the boys. Interestingly enough, both remain passionately invested in their unique interests.
Nearly 18 and a fully grown young man today, in his spare time Robert can be found playing baseball, watching baseball, reading about baseball, talking and texting about baseball, and I can only assume, dreaming about baseball.
Mathew spends his free time playing piano and guitar, and making music. He is off to a summer music program where he gets to hone his musical talents with other passionate and talented young musicians.
We didn’t know that at 18 months old the boys were giving us signs about where their passions lie. We didn't show them what to do with a stick, insist they take stick lessons, get them a stick coach or study stick technology. We simply watched nature unfold. We wouldn’t have predicted anything that summer day in the backyard about the places they would go, yet it was right there in plain sight.
Our kids are leaving us gingerbread crumbs every moment of every day to their authentic selves. The seeds are already within them, and properly nurtured they grow into the unique and beautiful expressions of their true nature.
As parents, it's simply our job to pay attention, tune in and allow our kids to show up - enter their truth and express themselves.
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