Engage In The Obsession
“Momma! Momma, will you help me find the missing one?”
My growing-too-fast boy kneels in the dining room chair leaning on his elbows across the table as he surveys the colorful plastic toy bits sorted in piles across the table. A white sheet draped across the dark wooden table protects it for this building project. Patches of sunlight dance across it in the afternoon light. His chubby little boy fingers sweep through the rainbow of pieces looking for a single brick to complete this step in a long instruction book.
I sit beside him, his face full of concentration, as he found the missing piece. Mesmerized at his intensity, I stare too long. He looks up, grins and then goes back to work.
Hours later, with only quick bursts of conversation with me, the project is complete - a bright yellow castle with characters and moving pieces. I snap a picture of him with his work to show off to his grandparents. His proud smile lights up the frame.
Colorful plastic bricks are his obsession in this season.
“Momma! Momma, look at this fossil I found!” He bounds over, full of energy despite the afternoon heat, and I kneel beside him to examine it. Caked in dirt, the treasure resembles a tiny bone. His eyes wide with disbelief at his luck, he carefully pockets it and slips his hand in mine. We walk side by side a moment, then he runs ahead down the trail.
I watch after him, his step full of zeal. He looks back, grins and waits for me to catch up.
“It must be a sauropod,” he explains and chatters on about which dinosaurs might have walked along this river and why and when. His yellow baseball cap sits low and blocks my view of his face. But when we come to another set of visible dinosaur tracks, he squats down to investigate, and I call his name. He glances up, sees the camera in my hand and gives me a quick, albeit obligatory, grin.
Dinosaurs were his obsession in this season.
“Hey, Mom?” he calls from the couch as I prepare for dinner, “Come watch this!” I agree and sink down onto the cushion next to him. Together we watch two remote control robots battle to the electronic death as their master command every movement and onlookers cheer. Finally, in an epic finish, one bot is in flames while the other spins in celebration.
I turn to him and laugh, “Well, that was intense!” He laughs and starts the next episode.
Later, at dinner, he rehashes the battle for his dad and fills him in on the bot bracket and which one is poised to win for the season.
Fighting robots were his obsession in this season.
“hey mom can you come get me,” my phone lights up with his text. “already here,” I reply. He comes around the corner of the fieldhouse, sweaty and clearly exhausted. He opens the back door of the car, heaves his backpack and athletic bag into the backseat and gives me a half smile before closing the door again. Once in the front seat, he pulls out his phone, “Listen to this,” he begins as he recounts the stats of a football player with whom I’m only slightly familiar. He’s in awe of the player’s accomplishments since college.
I listen on our short drive home to the comparisons between this player and the next and a variety of thoughts on new league rules and how they might change the game. He continues talking as we walk into the house, he opens the door to the refrigerator, pulls out a snack to eat.
Football is his obsession in this season.
My boy isn’t just interested in things. He obsesses over them. He learns every detail. And sometimes, he opens up to tell me all about it.
My mind often wanders back to those moments and I’m thankful for them – and for his growth. He doesn’t kneel in the chair anymore and the yellow cap certainly doesn’t fit. Instead, his long legs bounce under the table as he talks through the happenings of his high school day, gives opinions on world events, and thinks aloud through theological questions. He’s grown physically, too, I can scarcely tell the difference between his shirts and his dad’s as I pull them from the laundry bins.
In Ecclesiastes 3, Solomon reminds us: “For everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” Thinking back over the past seasons, I know this one, this high school season, too will be quickly fleeting.
Solomon’s words are slightly revised in my heart these days:
“A time to be born, a time to die.
A time to build LEGO bricks, a time to store them away.
A time to hold his hand as he scans the ground for dinosaur fossils, a time to taxi him from practices and church and school and social events.
A time to listen, a time to pray he tells me more about what he’s thinking and feeling.
A time to wish for another moment with him as a little boy, a time for my heart to soar with pride at his growth.
Oh, Lord, may we raise him to grow like Jesus did – in wisdom, in stature and in favor with God and man. May we teach him how to live, so when he is grown he will return to it.”
These days, when I hear “Momma,” I try to pause to really listen. I want to engage in conversations about his most recent obsession, to listen enthusiastically to what he has to say, to remember the sports stats and details and ideas that occupy his thoughts, to offer advice when he wants it, and to tune in quietly when he doesn’t.
I try to be intentional and set the conversational stage, so I’ve opened the door to someday hear, “Momma, what do you think of this college?” Or “Momma, there’s this girl…”