I know that I write a lot about doing whatever I can to make sure that K-Man is in a position to go after his passions and dreams (and, more importantly, that he feels encouraged to do so). While I hesitate to call myself obsessed with this (for reasons that are far better discussed on a therapist’s couch), I am always keenly aware of what makes the kid get excited. Today, I flat out asked him.
While at the ever-popular “park with a pole” (to slide down and be a firefighter, of course), I asked him, “K-Man, what are your favorite things to do?” He looked at me with a look that was mostly, “I’m not even three. What the hell did you just ask me?” Instead, he more diplomatically just said, “What?” It was as if opposing counsel had objected in open court and I needed to search for a way to rephrase the question. (If, you know, I were a lawyer or had ever been involved in a trial. I learned, “I’ll rephrase, your Honor,” from the movies and the occasional “Law & Order.”)
So, I tried again. “K-Man, what do you like to do the most?” This seemed to make more sense to him. “Oh, I like Charlie.” Yes, I understand that Charlie is your best friend, but that’s not exactly what I’m asking, I explained. Then it clicked: “I like fire trucks!” He was on a roll, “I like music!” Anything else, I asked? And he launched into a series of fire truck and music related things: sliding down poles, playing guitar, singing, etc. No real surprises, I guess.
I asked him if he wanted to sing about fire trucks. He seemed pretty enthused about this and I launched into a nonsensical song about fire trucks. (To the tune of “The Brady Bunch” theme song – “Here’s the story of a boy named K-Man, who wanted very much to be a firefighter” and so on.) He laughed at me, which was likely because the words were silly and also his ears were probably hurting, and his laughter got me to stop.
I’m really not that “my kid is a genius” parent. But, K-Man's passions for music and firefighters truly seem real. I watch his little friends and talk to the other parents, and those kids seem to be into one TV show or another, or have a jones for any kind of truck (not so much with just fire trucks). Or they kind of jump from one thing to another. (K-Man’s buddy Charlie had the firefighter fetish for a while, but it was abandoned for tractors, I think.) And, others, of course, seem to have a knack for sports (but they also seem to have the dads who are already pushing).
I find myself wondering if K-Man's focus and passion for all things music and firefighters are signs of his focus and passion, or truly for these things. Will he always show focus and passion for his favorite things? Or will these two “hobbies” stick? Will he turn out to be one of those (sometimes I think lucky) people who are just born knowing what they want to do? Or is he one of those (sometimes I think equally lucky) people who find new and exciting passions and dreams to keep them motivated and to keep life interesting? (Or is he just three and this is what three-year olds do?)
I went to a concert a week or so ago (Stone Temple Pilots – good time) and couldn’t help but wonder if K-Man would someday be up on that stage (though unlike the STP lead singer, K-Man won’t have been in and out of rehab 40+ times). As Scott Weiland owned the crowd and wailed in that signature voice, I could see K-Man up there, playing his guitar, singing his songs and (like STP) wowing the crowd with a light show that included lots of video of fire. I imagined the T-shirts for the “K-Man and the Firefighters World Tour.”
Whatever he decides to do is cool by me. If he wants to fight fires, I hope he becomes one of the best and loves it. If he wants to sing, I hope he stays out of the tabloids (while making his music, of course). It’s just so interesting to me to watch him develop his passion(s), and it’s an amazing reminder that no matter where we are in our lives – it’s never too late to find and follow our own.