When you’re a little kid, you’re a little bit of everything. Artist, scientist, athlete, scholar. Sometimes it seems like growing up is a process of giving those things up, one by one. I guess we all have one thing we regret giving up, that we really miss, that we gave up because we were too lazy, or we couldn’t stick it out, or because we were afraid.”Narrator, The Wonder Years – S2 E7
My three sons are on winter break from school. They spent most of yesterday in the basement: a few hours building a Lego blockade for a Star Wars stop motion video, and some Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo with the neighbors. There was a Nerf battle, and lots of valentine’s day candy was eaten. The basement smelled like boys.
I also heard some beautiful music from the piano, multiple times throughout the day from my 13-year-old. And when I checked on the kids because the house was too quiet, he showed me this pencil drawing that he did of his pet cockatiel Chip, who was climbing around on the sunroom table, nibbling on erasers.
My teenager spends long stretches of time by himself drawing or playing with his bird or drawing his bird.
He occasionally plays football or baseball with his friends in the neighborhood.
He plays the piano multiple times a day.
He just won a short story contest for the state of Michigan.
He reads his bible most mornings.
Who is he becoming? He is 13. He is becoming who he will be forever, like we all are. As a parent, I love watching the choices he makes as his identity forms.
Yesterday was also the deadline to sign up for spring sports. He has been playing baseball for several years, likes playing in the neighborhood with his friends, but doesn’t like leagues. I told him he had to decide today if he was going to play for the school baseball team this year.
Then after dinner, we watched Kevin Arnold fumble his way through middle school on the Wonder Years, as we often do while the boys dry dishes. The 22-minute episodes are perfect for dish-doing, and I love watching Kevin and Paul through my sons’ eyes. Last night Kevin’s character made the decision to quit playing the piano.
In this episode, Kevin’s mom and dad watched him quit piano, let it be his decision, and helped him struggle through letting go of something he genuinely liked. (He decided to quit because he wasn’t going to be the best performance at the recital.) I wondered about Eli and baseball.
We are all making choices every day about who we are going to be. When did I choose to give up the things I gave up in my life? When did you? Is there anything you regret giving up? I guess we are all making identity choices every day as we try to be intentional with our time and priorities.
My son decided to play to school baseball for another season, so his 13-year-old identity still includes athlete. Artist, gamer, musician, writer, athlete, child of God.