– Graham Green
From about the time when our oldest son was about three years old, my husband Bill and I thought he’d be an engineer. The creations he could make out of blocks were amazing. In preschool, his teacher took us aside and advised us to buy this certain type of blocks. She said that the things that our son could build with them were astounding and advanced. The blocks were expensive but we purchased them anyway, supporting our mechanical engineer in the making.
We were astounded again when he became obsessed with Legos, watching him build creations far more advanced than his age. He patiently followed the instructions page by page, rarely asking for help, even more rarely getting frustrated.
We took him to Lego shows. Filled his room with blocks, building sets, and more and more Legos. At his request, we planned birthday parties every summer for five years straight where kids built cool things in our backyard (mostly make believe weapons) from PVC pipes, found objects, and compasses and flashlights from the dollar store.
When he was in sixth grade, our son expressed an interest in playing the drums. He needed lessons in order to play percussion in the school band the following year. I researched drum teachers, narrowed the list down to two, and let him choose which one he wanted to take lessons with. His choice surprised me a little: not the mohawk-haired dude but a woman my age. I contacted her and signed Liam up for his first lesson. The teacher proved to be a good fit and we scheduled a consistent weekly lesson time.
Our son’s teacher said he had natural talent, which isn’t too surprising since both Bill and I played percussion. I joined a drum corps when I was in sixth grade and then played percussion in the marching band in high school. Bill owned a Ludwig drum set and conga drums and played in a band in college. We joke that our son’s rhythm must be a dominant trait, part of his genetic code.
As high school rapidly approaches, we’ve gone to the high school for a few open houses, met the band director, and attended the school's pops concert. Last week, my son and I attended another meeting, where we sat through another presentation, and completed a form for him to request his electives for freshman year in order of preference. Here’s what he chose: 1) concert band, 2) jazz ensemble, 3) symphonic ensemble.
With an eye towards college, I asked my son if he had an interest in the computer science elective. He shook his head, saying, “All I want to do is play music.”
“Are you thinking that might be what you’d want to major in at college?” I asked.
My son paused and looked at me, the glint in his eyes shining, like all of his lights had just turned on: “You can major in music at college?”
I keep thinking about that moment when my son turned to me, remembering the focused look on his face. From one perspective, it was just one ordinary moment in time, a brief conversation, a throwaway memory. But it feels like a significant turning point: his trajectory has changed. What was once his (and our) target for 10 plus years no longer beckons him. “All I want to do is play music, mom.”
Okay. Let’s make that happen.