Talents. I’ve been thinking about them a lot since this weekend, and here’s where I’m at: I think as parents our children’s talents are sometimes a struggle to make peace with because it can be so tempting to pin our “do overs” on our kids.
Let’s unpack that. Do you ever find yourself doing that? Being tempted to live vicariously through them? Who doesn’t want to be the parent of the star? I think on some level we all do. So what happens when we’re not?
Sports are a BIG DEAL where we live. Church leagues. Community leagues. 2 practices and 2 games a week, for elementary kids. I live in the community that spawned Andrew Luck and has a championship high school swim team for ESPN’s sake. We DO sports here, and it’s a currency of sorts. If you play sports, your space in the social hierarchy is secure as a child, and if your child plays sports – you’ve got a built in social circle. So what do you do if you don’t have a kid who loves sports? Where do they (and you) fit?
Don’t get me wrong – sports are great. Fantastic, in fact. Teamwork. Pushing yourself. Doing hard things. Honing a skill. Sweating. Being fit. The list is endless, and who doesn’t want to see their kid excel and gain the kind of confidence that brings? Everyone. Which is why watching Reese play volleyball is particularly painful. She’s not aggressive. Sometimes she goes for it, sometimes she ducks. And she plays on a team with some pretty athletically gifted kids which makes the “talent” gap even more apparent. Ugh. My soul. Saturday was hard to watch as a parent in the stands, and hard to stomach on the ride home when we knew that she knew that it wasn’t her day.
But, backpacks or boulders, right? She’s got to learn how to shoulder disappointment and decide what she wants to do: soldier on and work to improve, or wait out the season and not play again. Either way, she’s old enough to make that determination for herself — but Saturday was hard.
And then Sunday.
“Hey Mom! What do you think?”
You could have scraped me off the floor. “Wait? You did that? When? JUST NOW? Did Dad help you? NO?? Wait. What?? Seriously?”
And her grin just got bigger and bigger. “Yeah. I just decided to paint something. I like it. Can I have a snack?”
This was decidedly not Saturday’s kid. And that’s the lesson.
Who says talents have to all look the same? What makes your soul happy when it just flows out of you — that’s your talent. We need all types. We need to celebrate all types. We need to step back and let them show us what they love. We need to let them be, and pay attention. And be amazed. And ask questions. And find lessons and mentors if they want them. And encourage them to pursue them. And not attempt to stifle them. And let them unfold.
I don’t know about your weekend, but the Spradlings — we are a Sunday people.