“Eat your breakfast and cultivate original thought.” That was my advice to my son this morning.
You see, Elliot is a loquacious 14 year old. He loves being clever; he loves to make people laugh. He’s got a great, wry sense of humor, and he has a near photographic memory. He — like many of us — seeks the funny bits on the web. Except he scours the Internet for memes, clips, and videos, and more often than not memorizes them. He then tries out the material on those around him, rephrasing here or there to make the joke sound like his own.
I know that imitation is the highest form of flattery. I know that all artists start by copying their masters. I know that he is well on his way to gaining the education and insight it takes to do social commentary in a humorous manner, but he’s not there yet. I do believe, however, that he is on his way. We see him growing incrementally. He no longer spouts edicts and doctrines and things that may or may not be facts. He proclaims less in black and white on the biggies like politics and religion. He judges less outwardly and thinks more inwardly. Granted, he still often speaks before he thinks, and frequently from a position of ignorance or misinformation, but he’s a 14 year old boy, and it’s to be expected. Our job is to keep guiding him in the right direction, to keep challenging him, and to keep encouraging him. Sometimes, though, my job is just to get him to stop talking long enough to eat his breakfast.