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Raising Our Kids: How The Clues Were There All Along


Laurie often wondered what her boys would become as adults. Would they become doctors? Artists? Astronauts? Looking back she said there were clues. Laurie pictured with Patrick, Paul and husband, Randy.

By Laurie Stone

Recently I heard two young mothers musing about what their children might be when they grew up. I had pondered the same about my two boys, Patrick and Paul, when they were little. Would they become doctors? Artists? Astronauts? But looking back, I see the hints were there all along.

My older son Patrick’s clues came when he hit 1st grade and got into Beanie Babies, those miniature plush bean bag toys that were a big craze years ago. Only Patrick didn’t just play with his Beanies, he created entire Beanie Baby societies.

One time, I came across Patrick assembling his collection of about 20 Beanies, including dogs, giraffes and blue jays, into one long row. One lone little gray Beanie Baby bunny stood in front of all the others. I asked Patrick what this interesting tribunal was about. He looked up with earnest blue eyes. “That bunny is our newest Beanie Baby,” he said. “The others are here to welcome him.”

Sure enough, all the Beanie Babies took turns “hopping up” (with Patrick’s help) to welcome their newest member by gently touching head-to-head. The ceremony was so sweet, I wondered how all this compassion and empathy for a new Beanie Baby would translate as he grew older.

My older son Patrick’s clues came when he hit 1st grade and got into Beanie Babies, those miniature plush bean bag toys that were a big craze years ago.

Fast forward 20 years to grad school where Patrick is about to complete a master’s in clinical mental health counselling. He had tried several majors when he entered college but found he loved psychology, especially therapy, which is all about compassion and empathy. Turns out the Beanie Baby phase was a clue after all.

Our younger son, Paul had a different route. From the time Paul was a toddler, he adored tasting, touching, smelling and eating anything (and I mean anything, sometimes to my horror). He loved all things sensory.

motherhood, guilty pleasures, meals, mother, worrying, hopeful, boys, asleep, pedometerOur first clue for Paul’s future came when we took the kids to Smith & Wollensky’s Steakhouse in Manhattan. Paul sat there at 9 years old, transfixed, relishing a hamburger with onion rings. As he watched the waiters bustling by with heaping trays of shrimp cocktail and porterhouses, Paul held up his Shirley Temple as if in a toast and proclaimed, “Now this is a restaurant.”

Even at a young age, he would try anything new, no matter how exotic, on the menu. “I’ll have the elk,” he once declared when he was 11. My husband Randy and I looked at each other and shrugged. We’d learned that Paul had a mature palate for a kid. He ordered the elk and loved it (for reference, I’ve never tried elk in my life).

Although Paul had many passions growing up, his love of good food was a clue to his later journey. He even loved to plate and if it was his turn to cook, would arrange the meat loaf and mashed potatoes in such a way you’d think you were dining in the finest restaurant.

If you guessed he became a chef, you were right. In college he signed up for culinary courses and never looked back. Over the past six years, Paul has worked his way up the commercial kitchen ladder and is now a cook for an upscale senior living facility, known for its high-quality food.

Yes, that day I listened to those young mothers as they wondered about their children’s paths and wanted to tell them to just watch. Sometimes the dots are easy to connect. Sometimes they’re not. Sometimes our kids surprise us.

But many clues are there, just waiting to be seen.

Laurie Stone writes from the woods of Easton, Conn. Her blog, “Musings, Rants &Scribbles,” shares thoughts on growing up, older and (hopefully) wiser. Follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

5 Responses to “Raising Our Kids: How The Clues Were There All Along”

  1. Shari says:

    Totally agree! It’s interesting, isn’t it. Funny thing about the beanie babies–my husband and I took 2 big boxes of them out of the attic, and both of our kids want to check them out before we give them away. Some were dressed in Groovy Girls clothes.

  2. How fascinating, Laurie. Observing is everything!

  3. I love this. An inspiration and invitation to look back and see, “well, of course…”

  4. Loved this post. It makes me think of my kids and where they are now in their careers. Although my son always wanted to be in hospitality and then when he did his summer internships and saw how late he had to work at an hotel, he changed into finance.

  5. Diane says:

    Kids. Watching them is the new adventure!


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