Obsessions

Well, the thing I always wanted for my son has happened. The boy who was the total chameleon has finally focused on one endeavor. Of course it’s not what I had hoped it would be, but he’s obsessed about something.

For years, starting back when he was old enough to start socializing – pre-school age – he was a total chameleon. He would never tell anyone his favorite anything first. Instead he would ask, “Well, what is your favorite?” And whatever the answer, that would become our son’s favorite, at least until he befriended someone else with different likes and dislikes.

During this time I always worried that this boy would never figure out what he wanted, what was important to him, what a made him who he was, not an amalgamation of his friends interests and desires. Over and over I would ask, and get him to think about “what is your favorite?” All the while emphasizing that in the time it would take to get to college, I would happiest if he figured out who he was, and what he most loved to do: what was his bliss.

Last spring, mid-way through the age of 12, he asked to try playing lacrosse. It’s not a well established sport here, so 12 is not considered over-the-hill for being a first time player, like it is for soccer, baseball, football, and especially hockey around here. Three months later this boy was obsessed.

The great unintended consequence is that now he wants to go to one of either two colleges: UNC Chapel Hill, or Cornell. He wants to make varsity lacrosse at the high school as a freshman, and he is actually translating his motivation into action, unlike many of the other past-times that have followed before this.

I hesitate, however, in this whole obsession cycle. How much do I encourage? How much do I motivate? I’m not a believer in pushing my kids in their sport. The interest and fire has to come from within them, not from some twisted impulse to not disappoint me, which I’m sure is in there somehow anyway.

So what’s my hesitation? Everything right now is lacrosse, lacrosse, lacrosse. Thankfully he’s maintaining his grades right now, but I can see the time involved in maintaining the obsession seeping into obligations like school-work, which is an interesting paradox, because in order to move on with the sport means going to a decent college, which you can’t get into unless you’ve done well academically.

So maybe that’s where I take my concerns. Remind him that to go to one of these power-house lacrosse colleges he’s going to have to also do well in school.

Then we get down to the whole “I’m bored” in school, routine, and the struggles to make sure he’s staying engaged with school-work. When I look at how some of his subjects are being taught, I don’t blame him. I also had an opportunity to go through some notes I had written when I was his age and see that I was as insufferably “bored” as he was.

Is it just a bi-product of 13 year-olds? Boredom.

Maybe this is really what I’m worried about.