I wasn’t there, so I can’t speak firsthand as to what exactly happened or how. All I can report is that my older sons’ former Kindergarten teacher came back this afternoon with two very jubilant boys after taking them to a local storytelling event.
I listened to my oldest son Oscar ebulliently regale me with tales from their afternoon, culminating with an admiring, approving description of his younger brother’s superior dance moves.
Edgar chimed in and said he was the first (and for a while the only one) to get up to dance, after which others followed. We were impressed but not especially surprised because if we know anything at all about Edgar, it’s that his spirit is as energetic as it is infectious.
After reenacting his dance, which was indeed outstanding, he said, somewhat wistfully, “You know, that was the first time I was ever a leader. I was recognized, and it was cool.”
And it was at that moment I stopped. I truly took in what he just said.
If you had asked me mere hours ago which of my sons would be most attracted to leadership, to being recognized as a leader, I would have said, without hesitation, my oldest and youngest, Oscar and August. My sweet middle boy has never seemed especially interested in doing anything other than following his bliss. Whether others followed or not, to him, appeared to be quite immaterial.
And maybe until today that was the case.
And, then again, maybe it wasn’t.
I realized then that no matter how much, as a parent, I purport to know my children, I don’t. I can’t. The stirrings of their souls are theirs—not for me to own and, sometimes, not even for me to know. And though I would argue no one knows a child quite like a parent, parents never have the full picture. We are at the mercy of what our children show us and tell us—and even then the dependability of their narrative voices, as is the case with everyone else’s, is in flux and depends upon so much.
I would have told you yesterday my son Edgar had no desire to be a leader. I also would have told you I knew him inside and out.
And now I know differently and know that I clearly do not.
And that . . . that gives me very significant pause.