Guest Blog Post by K. Dana King
I was fond of saying, when my two sons were in school, that while I would never consider myself a middle of the road person, my children couldn’t even see the middle of the road from wherever it was that they and their drummers were traveling.
I didn’t raise them to be different, but I did raise them to enjoy and appreciate their creativity. We read and told stories together, animating the world around us, dug our hands into homemade modeling clay and goop whenever possible, and sang. When my oldest son was shorter than my sister’s piano, he would reach his fingers up and push the keys, composing toddler tunes. My younger son wiled away hours in the bathtub, filling notebook after notebook with sometimes soggy tales.
Creativity, however, can be an issue in organized venues where order and a certain amount of conformity are necessary to achieve group aims. “How was school?” I asked after their first days of kindergarten. “SO many rules!” sighed my sons. It’s not that we didn’t have rules at home – we did. I was particularly adamant about safety rules, although the boys were always eager to find a creative response to those which allowed them to explore their world to the fullest. Gravity was a rule that was not infrequently challenged at my house. Despite my skill at sensing impending flights of fancy and plucking my progeny off of precarious locations, such as the outside of the second story staircase landing, I came to know their pediatrician well.
In elementary school, my sons were quick at their lessons and wanted to tell stories in what they considered to be the free time they had thus created, which did little to advance the agendas of their teachers, saints in charge of twenty-five or thirty nimble young minds. I became the classroom volunteer and the room parent and the art mom and the field trip chauffeur, not only because I wanted to help, but also because I was secretly convinced that my sons would be summarily ejected from any given school absent a generous amount of goodwill on their teachers’ parts. At home, we found solace from the more prosaic demands of academia in glitter and glue and outrageous stories about what the dryer did with the socks it stole.
As middle school approached each one of my babies, deepening their voices and adjusting all of our attitudes, I hoped they would develop a solid cohort of friends and a passionate interest or two to help ferry them, and me, through the whitewater of impending teenage-hood. The older one lasted the longest in team sports and Boy Scouts; the younger one abandoned all group pursuits with great determination and concentrated his athletic energy on his skateboard.
And then, magically, there was band. With a student model plastic clarinet, which quickly morphed into more professional saxophones than any one family should harbor, a pair of keyboards and a purloined flute whose real owner they refused to identify for several years, my sons discovered a creative outlet, a passionate pursuit, a circle of equally disciplined and determined friends, and the voices of their own musical artistry. They created their high school niches and their college majors and enough beautiful music to bring total strangers, occasionally, and their mother, frequently, to tears.
These days, the dryer still steals socks and I still tell stories, although sometimes only the cat listens. There are moments when I miss the glitter and the goop, but I have my sons’ music in my heart and on the cd playing on the car stereo as I drive down the highways and byways of my life, studiously avoiding the middle of the road.
K. Dana King holds a rather ancient B.A. in English and History from Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA. She also attended the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. Currently, she is pursuing a master’s degree in Literature and Writing Studies at Cal State University San Marcos. She is the proud parent of two interesting, intelligent, and talented young adults and one ornery cat.
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