I have tried so hard to not "label" my children. But I am afraid it is inevitable. When asked about my children I often describe Stephen as the athletic one and Allie as the musical one. This doesn't mean that Stephen has no musical ability or Allie has no athletic ability. Allie has always been the one totally devoted to school and good grades and Stephen has always been totally devoted to being the best in baseball. But I hope that I have conveyed to them that these are descriptions and not judgements on who they are. Because as we all know, as we grow, those descriptions change.
That has happened in Stephen's life in the last year and it has been miraculous to watch. As a young boy, Stephen had a passion for throwing and catching balls and writing stories. He was creative not only with stories but with making up games with balls. One of our favorites was "This and That". Don't ask me to describe it, I still don't understand the rules. "That's okay, Mommy, I will wait for Daddy," was often said at our house after a few rounds of This and That. Stephen also wrote incredible stories and was quite prolific. I was thrilled that his Kindergarten, First and Second Grade teachers encouraged this creativity and didn't try to harness it into a formula. Unfortunately by third grade we had moved to a state that had the "WRITING" test in 4th grade. I am not sure I can describe the sorrow and pain I felt as I watched the creativity being squashed in my talented little boy. I was devastated. I was an educator for god's sake. I knew better...but I had to sit by and watch. I tried to continue encouraging his writing, but his confidence was taken away and a greater passion was taking over, baseball. For the next several years I watched as my son's joy and confidence in academics ebbed away. Finally in 9th grade he had a teacher who sealed the tomb on Stephen's academic interest. At the same time, Stephen's passion and talents in baseball flourished.
The baseball field was the one place I could see him hold himself with confidence and surety. It was beautiful to watch, because we all want to see our children happy and confident. He went off to college to play baseball and once again I had to witness the killing of my son's dreams. He had a coach who basically took Stephen's dreams away by tearing down his confidence and self-esteem. But, my son was stronger than that. He knew he was more than that. He stood up and spoke up for himself and declared that after the summer, baseball would be over.
Honestly we all feared what would come next. Stephen didn't see himself as we saw him, a smart kid. Now he didn't have baseball. What would happen? What came next is still miraculous to us. My son woke up and found himself. He found that boy of 5,6 and 7 who loved to read and write. He found his love of thinking and asking questions. My son has become the academic that Jack and I always knew was inside him.
Getting a phone call telling us about a fantastic professor he has is exhilarating. Looking at his Christmas list and finding several books and none of them about sports, it is amazing. Seeing the sparkle in his eyes once again is more precious than gold.
There are many more adjectives that pertain to Stephen. He is much more than those adjectives. He is an amazing young man who is beginning his journey as a man. I am honored to be his mother and have a front row seat to the miraculous life he is living. I only pray that he knows I see him as more than what he does, I see him. My boy. I see his heart which is gold. All the rest is just gravy.