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“It takes courage to grow up to be who you really are.” -e.e. cummings

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If you don’t see the fourth Ice Age movie in this original Jax painting, I can’t help you.

Look. Despite the collective insistence of my father and brother that Jax has a killer fast ball and all the athletic advantages of left-handedness, it’s way too soon to know or even wonder when he’ll be drafted into the MLB.

Just as premature (ugh, did I use that adjective about my once-micropreemie?) is this post positing that my son might be an artist. Except that some things you feel in your bones. Some things, you have an intuition about. My dad and brother will argue that they have an intuition about baseball. Fair enough.

I have an intuition about people with an artist’s soul, and I see one in my boy.

It would be too easy to say, “Jax makes lots of art at preschool; therefore, he is an artist.” He’s three. Kids like to color. Kids also like to make a mess. It’s deeper than that. The stacks upon stacks upon stacks of folded pages of his paintings and drawings that are daily jammed in his cubby hole at school–the sheer volume of them–and how he runs to an easel before I can even get his coat off in the mornings. That’s part of my feeling, and a part that could be explained away.

But really, it’s his reverence for pages. Blank pages, pages with text, pages with pictures, pages without pictures, coloring book pages, magazine pages, anything paper. He might rip, write, not write, color, scribble, poke holes, or shred. But they’re his. He carries them around with him. He tucks them into places where he can find them later. He loves them.

And now I want to mention his response to music, because this is the part that really drives home my instinct about his artist’s soul. When we watch certain movies or shows with music he’s heard before, when the music parts are coming up, he runs to me for a hug. He curls up in my lap. He jumps up and down. He SHRIEKS with delight, then crumples in a heap on the floor, crying real tears. He fusses. He hides his face, then peeks out to see. He dances maniacally, then runs in the other room screaming. He does any and all of these things in a 20-second period. And when I listen to music in the car, it’s the same thing: head bobbing furiously, and/or crying, and/or wanting a hug.

My son has extreme emotional responses to music. Just like his mama.

I know Jax likes being outside. I know he likes fruit, riding his four-wheeler, helping with his baby cousin, throwing rocks into water, and running bare-butt through the house after his bath yelling “NAKED BABYYYYYYY!” Knowing his likes isn’t hard. Knowing his loves? Knowing what moves him, makes him tick? Knowing his soul?

I’m getting a good idea…

My son is sensitive, artsy, social but very into his alone time, cuddly but also independent AF, cherishes his books and papers and crayons above all else (except maybe his cars), and cries when his favorite songs come on.

Nope. That doesn’t sound familiar at all.

I’m not saying my son is my clone, or even that I want him to be. I’m saying I recognize him not just as my son, but as a kindred.

So. Rejoice or despair?

Sensitive artsy types don’t always have it easy in this world. Then again, who does? Should Jax grow up and decide he wants to be a print-maker or concert cellist or make decorative blown glass bowls or, godforfreakinbid, write books, what then? I will support him, no doubt. I won’t be one of those parents who says, “No, you need to go into medicine or engineering or do something with computers because that’s the only way you’ll make money.” (Yes, when I was deciding what to be, the adults said “do something with computers.” It’s anachronistic, and I’m old. Moving on.) I won’t dissuade him. Nor will I dissuade him if he wants to fix cars, fly planes, or try to fast-ball is way to being an all-star. But I will worry that stupid things like stressing over money or cruel people or not feeling like he belongs in a world that doesn’t value what he values might crush his spirit. Like they’ve nearly crushed mine at turns all through my life. (I’m not whining, just being honest. Yes, there are worse forms of not-belonging. There are worse oppressions.)

Ok, I’m chilling out now, I promise. He’s 3 and likes music and art. He’s 3 and likes music and art. He’s 3 and likes music and art. That is all.