Last night I caught my 14 year old son as he got out of the shower and told him he needed to remove the mascara raccoon eyes before bed. That's a conversation that I never expected to have. He's in his first stage play. He's done some local commercials and short films but he's never had to wear heavy stage makeup before.
Our kids, these amazing souls, are in our care as they develop. We, as their parents, have the responsibility of helping them discover who and what they are. It's an important job, a hard job. In fact, as parents, we set aside many of our own needs to make sure that we can help our kids develop in a healthy way. When you have children who are wired differently, alphabet soup kids ADHD, ASD, SPD, ODD, or any of the other many disorders that change the way the brain receives, processes, and reacts to information everything we do as parents becomes more vital. Helping our kids find and pursue their passions becomes even more critical to their development now and in their future.
Interests, obsessions, passions are not always where their natural talent lies. Our oldest daughter wanted desperately to sing, over the years we worked out ways to get her vocal lessons. To almost anyone who heard her sing early on this might have seemed like huge mistake. As even she will tell you, she was awful, painful even. But in pursuing a talent she wanted but was not naturally gifted at she learned some very valuable life lessons like dedication, perseverance, work ethic, sacrifice. Recently, she was talking to one of her siblings about success, she was quick to remind him of how horribly she sang at first, how vital constantly working at what you want to be successful at is, and how it all turned out for her. She has an amazing voice now and the life skills that she has learned getting that voice are not lost on her. She understands how to set and achieve a goal.
|at home ALWAYS "on"|
It is tempting, as parents, focused on our children's future, to think only of whether a skill is going to be useful to them as an adult. I remember a friend who was horrified by her 7th grade daughters ninja obsession. She wanted nothing more than to shut it down. It was an obsession shared by my daughter, her best friend. According to the other mom I was not nearly horrified enough. They read on the subject incessantly, they drew ninjas, watched ninja movies, even learned some marshal arts. I wasn't worried about it, I knew it would pass but when I talked to the other mom she was afraid that if she encouraged it, if she didn't squash it immediately, that it might be all her daughter did with her life. While it is true that our children, in the pursuit of their passions may stumble on what they may do for the rest of their lives most likely they will just explore many ideas, activities, hobbies, that will be fond memories and life lessons but not career paths, As I told this mom, I feel safe in saying that neither girl would end up a ninja. I was right.
In some cases, however, they may find their future. That's not a bad thing. Especially for kids with ADHD and other similar disorders, finding a career they are passionate about increases their chance of success as an adult. The ADHD brain does not do well when it is bored, it does exceptionally well when it is stimulated by something it loves.
I watched my son on stage the other night, his lack of inhibition (fueled by his ADHD) filled the room as did the laughter when his physical comedy stole the show. I saw him buzz with the exhilaration at the audience reaction. It was his first stage play, he had never had a live audience to feed his energy before. I saw his confidence swell. He found a niche, certainly a passion.
For kids that fight everyday to remember and process what they are learning in class, to remember to put their name on their papers, to remember to turn in their work, who feel different from their peers, who know they struggle to keep up and to fit in; finding their passion, their talent, their niche provides a critical sense of success and accomplishment. It gives them a balance to their struggles, an edge, a path to success in the future.
Will he be the next Jim Carey as the family in front of us proposed? I don't know and for right now I don't care. This passion is giving him insight, teaching him skills he will use in everyday life, building confidence, teaching dedication, work ethic, sacrifice, team work, and most importantly opening his eyes to his own possibilities. We will support him in the pursuit of anything that teaches those lessons, brings him to that sort of positive place.
And at the end of the night we will laugh when his 4 older sisters try and help him get the mascara off while lecturing him on his new found appreciation for all that girls do to look beautiful.
* special thanks to my kids for collecting all the art and writing stuff in the picture and to Mary for taking it for me