Sunday, February 20, 2011

Office Max, Ice Cream and a New Goal

My sons dad and I talk often about the importance of teaching our son to set goals, then work on attaining them.  Truthfully, when you boil down the teen events that Merriweather and I do, one of the big things I hope to achieve is opening kids minds to the possibilities available to them and helping them set goals that inspire them!  My son attended the event on the 5th, so discussing goal setting with him again is probably very timely at this point.  A few weeks back he came home from school after a career day, with a list of possible jobs hastily scribbled onto a corner of paper and torn from his worksheet.  In telling me about the possibilities that caught his attention, I could hear he wasn't especially excited about any of them.

A little after that, my son and I had a conversation about my renewed work on the novel I'm writing.  He agreed he would try to get things for himself while I was writing, or wait till I took a break to ask something of me.  Partly because of that conversation, he's taken more notice of what I'm doing and has noticed I'm writing.  This has had the unexpected effect of giving him more confidence in his own writing abilities.  In the past, he has been very resistant to writing of any kind.  He doesn't like to write by hand and his typing skills are just now getting to a point where he feels like he's accomplishing something to type rather than hand write.

Writing is also, I think, a sort of deceptive craft.  It seems like it should be easy, right?
"I speak well, tell stories, converse, entertain and delight verbally, why shouldn't I be able to write it down in a bestseller?"
 Similarly, I think it seems to kids who read a beautifully narrated story that they could do this too and it should be easy!  For those who don't naturally lay down pages of prose however, it can be very intimidating.  So when my son had struggled over every word and come up with three lines, poorly constructed, he was understandably discouraged.  He let that feeling keep him from writing anything for a long time but he's not intimidated or discouraged by writing any more!  Shortly after he started to take notice of my writing, he began writing his own story!  He'll join me while I write, bringing his laptop into whatever room I'm in, saying "Hey Mom, wanna write together?"  Clearly, having such a real example of that possibility makes it an attainable goal for him.

Last week he finished his story.  It's over 4500 words and is nine pages long when printed!  He's so proud...  So am I!  With the final version in hand, we went to Office Max for binding and once it was all put together I thought his face might crack from the huge smile pasted there!  I decided this wasn't the time to go home so we drove out to a Jim's Diner for hot cocoa and ice cream sundaes.  When asked about the scrap of paper he had brought home after career day, he informed me he didn't want to do those things - he wanted to be a writer!  He had such a great time working on his first story he wants to do more writing.  Watching him light up as he talked about it made me grin from ear to ear.

He told me over ice cream that he wants to be an author and have his story read by thousands of people.  I told him bestselling authors sell millions of copies of their books.  I said "When you write a book, you won't reach thousands of people, you'll reach millions."  That idea lit up his whole face!  I reminded him not to think small about himself, just like he learned from Kevin Hall.  So he wants to be a writer!  And he wants to work on that and set goals that will make him a better writer and develop his skill.  Whatever he ends up pursuing as an adult, it's so exciting to see him dreaming about his future.

I'm interested lately in what kinds of goals we set and how we reach them.  Do you regularly set and work on goals?  Do you help your kids reach goals?  What  methods do you implement for yourself or your kids to achieve those goals?

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