The first weeks of life with a newborn were a whirlwind of feedings, diaper changing, cat naps, laundry, burping, feeling exhausted. And just about the time I started to feel that I couldn’t take it anymore something amazing happened. My little guy smiled at me.
Oh, I know others were quick to say, “It’s just gas.” But I was convinced otherwise. I knew we had a real emotional connection going which made all the work worthwhile.
That was just the beginning of surprises that caught me off guard and made parenting a rewarding experience.
Rolling over, sitting up, first word, first step, walking, running, skipping, riding a bike. And when my guys reached school age there was reading, mastering addition tables, writing stories. Success on the baseball field. Earning badges in scouts.
While the progress and achievements kept rolling in, somewhere along the line the element of surprise faded. Everything was just a progression. Tiger Cub, Wolf, Bear, Webelo. Little League, Babe Ruth, JV, Varsity. PSAT, SAT, AP’s. They worked hard. They (generally) had some measure of success. But everything was part of a planned progression. There was no spontaneity, no spark.
Fast forward to this semester. My freshman had mentioned he signed up for a guitar class to fulfill a fine arts General Education Requirement. Beyond that announcement, he had complained that the guitar he was renting never seemed to stay in tune. Also that the teacher was either very strict or a little eccentric.
Last weekend both kids arrived home for spring break. The freshman brought the guitar home and pulled it out to play it. I guess I was expecting him to strum a few chords as he hummed along to “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” or something. Imagine my surprise when he started in with a classical guitar piece. As the fingers on his left hand deftly picked their way around the frets, the fingers on his right hand somehow found the correct strings to pluck. It was amazing.
Later in the day my older son mentioned that his dorm has sound proof practice rooms with pianos in them. During the day they tend to be filled with legitimate music students. But, night owl that he is, he can wander by in the wee hours of the morning and find them deserted. He dug up some music on-line and started working on it a bit. Before I knew it he was playing Pachelbel’s Cannon in D major, from memory, on our piano at home. Again, I was amazed.
What a delight that my kids, even though they’re practically all grown up, keep surprising me.