Saturday, January 10, 2009

Evolution of a Child-Not the Darwinian Kind

It's been a busy Saturday. We spent the biggest part of the day at an All-District band concert. Michael made first chair tenor saxophone this year in the 11th & 12th grade band. It's his 4th time to make the band. He really loves band and music in general. He has a really good singing voice, and has led singing at young men's night at church and at youth devotionals.

While I sat and watched my dear son, I couldn't help but think of years gone by. When Michael was a little boy, he had no interest in doing new activities. He tried softball at the YMCA, but it was too hot and he was bored. He was in Boy Scouts & a 4-H group for awhile, but never really cared for it, though he was an awfully cute puppy on stage at the 4-H talent show! He stuck with a children's bowling league for a little longer time, but after about a year he was done. He was offered piano lessons and other YMCA sports, but he didn't want to do it. He always preferred to stay home and play. In contrast, his older sister never wanted to miss an opportunity to try a new club or lesson.

I find it fascinating to watch my children evolve into young adults. It's really a joy to see how the story of their life is unfolding. My Michael who never wanted to try a lot of new activities, is now one who never wants to miss an opportunity to do a band activity. In addition to marching and concert bands, he is in pep band, All-District &Honors band. He was recommended and tried out for All-State band. He has done solos and ensembles. He's now checking into the Governor's School for the Arts program for next summer. Band has really been a wonderful thing for Michael. He has grown in his self confidence because of it.

I very frequently hear other parents talk about their teenage children. It is typically is in a disparaging way. Their teenagers are smart mouthed, disrespectful and rude people. They may argue over chores, have to be nagged about school work, and prefer to be with their friends over their family. I feel very blessed and thankful that those things do not describe my Michael. If anything, the older he gets, the more kind, appreciative, and respectful he is. As a younger child, he was very lazy about doing chores and would usually just put in a half hearted effort in doing them. In contrast, he will now offer to clean his room and do household chores without being asked. In elementary school, he was fine to make A's & B's with little effort, but once he started middle school, he decided to only make A's. He has kept that up to this point. It's been a family joke that he fusses if his A's aren't high enough A's. Until a couple of years ago, I worried about how much fighting he and his brother (who is 4 1/2 years younger) did. There was a constant fuss about something. Things are so different now. Michael & Matthew are best buddies. I have told Michael many times that he should take seriously how much Matthew is looking up to him. Because of Michael, Matthew wants to excel in band and is now the 6th grade first chair trumpet player. Matthew enjoys being old enough to go to youth events this year because he'll get to do them with Michael. Just this week, I have noticed that Matthew is keeping his room really clean! That is a HUGE difference! He's always been one of my messiest kids. Michael doesn't really realize it, but he is playing a big part in helping us raise Matthew, just by his influence.

So is Michael perfect? Of course not. He has been known to bite someone's head off if they wake him from a deep sleep. He gets impatient with people who do dumb things and he is a little (sometimes a lot) on the obsessive compulsive side. Those imperfections are pretty minor in contrast to many teenagers. I will look forward to watching Michael continue in this evolution from boy to man. He is a really unique and special kid! My next big problem will be in a year and a half when he leaves home for college. We may have to pack Matthew a bag, too!

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