I remember this one “dad” conversation I had back in the day. I really liked the guy I was talking to. Probably because he was into basketball as much as I was into basketball. And sometimes, after dropping our kids off at preschool, we’d talk for a sec, just outside the school gates, about the Brooklyn Nets or how ballhandling is the first skill that vanishes when you start getting older. But on this particular morning he was talking about his oldest daughter. “She’s an amazing kid,” he said, shoving his phone into his pocket and folding his arms. “But sometimes . . . she just seems a little lost, you know? Like she can’t figure out what her ‘thing’ is.” I nodded along, supportively. His oldest daughter was only eight, which seemed a tad young for this kind of concern, but what did I know about 2nd graders? My daughter was only three.
I’ve found myself in dozens of conversations like that since. Or the flipside of that conversation, where a mom or dad is convinced they know exactly who their child is. “Maria, she’s my dancer.” “Leo’s my little engineer.” “Ava was born to perform. According to her vocal coaches she has perfect pitch.” “Try prying my son David away from the batting cage before dark. He’s on sixteen traveling teams this summer, including one that will take us all the way to Perth, Australia.” Shoot, I’m the same way. How many times, when introducing my daughter, have I led with some variation of, “She’s a HUGE reader” or “I can’t keep this one’s nose out of a novel.”
Parents these days.
Why are we in such a hurry to label our own children?
PATCHWORK is for all the “lost” kids out there. The ones who have yet to find their “thing.” Or the ones who’ve managed to shrug off the over-eager categories we adults keep trying to put them into. PATCHWORK is for the kids who are too busy playing right about now. Experimenting. Following narrow trails that lead into dead ends. It’s for the kids who keep picking up instruments only to put them back down. I think Walt Whitman had it right when he famously declared: “I contain multitudes.” We ALL contain multitudes. That’s what makes each of our twisting, turning journeys so fascinating. And there’s a bigger picture, too. All of our individual lives fit into the intricate patchwork of humanity, where no single path or identity is more beautiful or worthy than another.