Saturday, August 20, 2011

The First I-Pod With Legs

I have a son that wants to be a writer. I have no one else to blame buy myself. When he was a small child, his mother told him bedtime stories that had a good moral point. I made up wild tales that weaved colorful characters through moments of adventure and intrigue. My stories lacked a good moral point, but they were fun. His mother was not allowed in the bedroom as I shared such original yarns with him. They were not exactly “mom friendly.” I had no idea at the time what kind of ambition that I was fostering !  


He has a particular interest in music. Once again I have no one else to blame but myself. When he was a toddler, I sang him songs to him while I rocked him to sleep at night. He was rather picky about his music even then. I would start a song, and he would whisper: “not that song.” I would start another one. Same thing…. It would take four or five attempts before I hit on the right one. Of course at that point I was told: “that song.” Perhaps he can now write “that song” himself now, because after all he wants to be a writer.


In the third grade, his teacher bemoaned the fact that he did not want to write. She was a wonderful educator, but she did not quite have that situation pegged. He wanted to write all right. There were all kinds of ideas swirling around in his head that could have made it to his paper. He just did not want to be bothered with writing someone else’s sentences in a neat and tidy way. School was confining at that point. Little did she know that her reluctant student wanted to be a writer.


He joined the debate team in high school. His coach chastised him more than once for not “flowing the debate.” It is a very basic debate skill that I too learned as a high school debater many years ago. You write down the essence of your opponent’s arguments in a logical sequence on a sheet of paper and then you flow across with your rebuttals to each of those points. It works. But my son chose instead to flow in his head. His coach told him that nobody does that. She of course was right. But once again he was not going to be confined by the standard rules of procedure. He was busy writing his arguments in his head instead of flowing. It is actually brilliant, but we did not know then that he wanted to be a writer.


Tonight that toddler that thought I was the first i-pod with legs is going through orientation at the LA Film Institute in Los Angeles. He plans to be a screen writing intern this semester. He wants to be writer. In fact, he wants to be a screen writer. There is a moral to this experience.


If you are a parent of a small child, invest wisely. Their genetic makeup certainly impacts their life, but environment plays a role too. Think very carefully about what you do with them. Give a lot of thought about what you to say to them. (Be especially cautious about the content of bedtime stories.) Instill confidence in your children. Foster independence. And when they grow up, they will get in the car one day and drive to another world as they attempt to shape their own identity. I have a son that wants to be a writer. But all I want to do is to be a father of a toddler again.  Being the first i-pod with legs really was not such a bad thing at all.

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