Thursday, July 24, 2008

Our Renaissance Man

Twenty-seven years ago tomorrow, on a surprisingly cool cloudy day for July, I woke up at the crack of dawn, with the first hints labor contractions. Pretty soon my two year old was calling from his crib, "Time to get up, Mommy! Go cook!" I got him up and made him his breakfast, letting Mike sleep in a bit, since it was Saturday. When he did finally get up, I told him that we were finally (fourteen days late!) going to have this second baby. We messed around over the course of the morning, took the toddler over to his grandparents, and came back to the house to pack a bag for me. Eventually, I talked Mike into going to the hospital. Good thing! Half an hour later, there was Grant!

Grant is our Renaissance Man.

Like his dad, he drew on every scrap of paper he could find. He became fascinated with scissors (uh-oh!) and carpeted the house with tiny snips of paper from all the many "pop-up books" he determinedly, and, I might add, successfully created as a little boy. He invented toys, and was frustrated only in his inability to mass-market them. He went to an art class every Saturday at the university, from the time he was four until he graduated from high school. Then he attended that same university to major in Art Education, and he became the teacher of the class he had attended as a child! He was hired to teach in the elementary school he had grown up in, where he still works today. I meet families of children all over town who claim him as their favorite teacher, and art as their favorite subject. If you'd like to see some of what he does as a teacher, just pop over here.

From day one, he kicked his little feet perfectly in time to any music we were playing. As a preschooler, he was a dancing fool every time the record player came on. We started him on the piano in second grade, but after two years the piano teacher was in despair; he wasn't bothering to learn to read music, he just played everything by ear! So, we let him give up piano and play trumpet in the school band. Up to his old tricks, he languished at the end of the section because he couldn't sight read the music. One day, he realized that if he switched to the tuba, he could be first chair- because there weren't any other tubas! This time, he invested a bit of time and learned to read the notes on the page, and he got pretty good. He also decided to learn to play my old guitar, by shutting himself up in his bedroom with a teach-yourself-guitar method book, and doggedly practicing. He got an electric (they're sooo much cooler!) and he got good at that, too. He played a mean jazz guitar in the high school jazz band, went out touring every summer in college with a Christian worship band that played at church camps, and wound up serving as a paid musician for a while in a campus church. But, being the creative type, he can't just play other people's music. He composes and records his own as well.

Grant grew late. He entered high school 5ft. even, and 86lbs (he finally grew his senior year, and on into college). I was shaking in my boots for him! I thought those big high school kids would stuff him in a locker every day, but that didn't happen. He was handed a Sousaphone for marching band, and came home pretty frustrated after the first marching practice. See, the problem was, it came down to his knees, and when he marched, his knees would hit it and it would bounce around. We scrounged around and found an old egg-crate mattress pad, and, duct-taping a strip of that around the part of the Sousaphone that rested on his shoulder, we were able to raise it enough to solve that problem. So he didn't quit. Then he looked around for something "manly" to do, to show that despite his size he was someone to be reckoned with. He chose wrestling. Never mind that the smallest weight class was 103lbs, giving him a 17lb disadvantage. Never mind that the smallest singlet they had hung on him like a gunny sack. He wrestled! He lettered three years! He didn't quit. One day I saw a t-shirt with a rampant lion on it and the word "Lionheart". I had to buy it for Grant. It was perfect.

Grant believes in putting his faith into action. Whether it's working with the youth group at church, encouraging the schoolchildren to be charitable, writing and drawing graphic novels that will reference Biblical truths, or rehabbing homes for the needy with Empty Tomb, and organizing groups from the church to help him with that, he wants to act on the servanthood model. The more challenging the setting, the more doggedly he hangs in there. He doesn't quit!

Maybe that's the quality that sets a merely creative person apart from a Renaissance Man.

Happy Birthday, Grant!


Michael Thomas said...

Wow! That covered a lot of ground. I would echo all that Joyce said. For me personally, I am one of those that Grant challenges to get involved with empty tomb once a month. I have been blessed by the experience each time. Grant made it easily doable. How can I refuse a once a month obligation? And since he organizes others to do this, I have been blessed by getting to know and work shoulder to shoulder with many others in a variety of ages.

On the art note: it is nice to have a resource when I need expertise about materials usage. So the student has become the teacher. It seems like he really loves what he does. And as the commercial says, that's "priceless"
Happy birthday Grant!

Rose said...

Happy Birth-day to you, too, Joyce! It's obvious you are a proud mother as well you should be. Grant sounds like a wonderful young man and an exceptional teacher and role model to his students.

Going Crunchy said...

Happy Birthday! What a great post. I visited his site, and will return to shamelessly steal ideas. Shannon

Joyce said...

Thanks, Ladies! It's fun to brag on your children, even if it's not god manners!

eco 'burban mom said...

Hooray! Happy Birthday, Grant! I can only hope my boys grow to follow their passions the way he has. That will truly make me happy! Good job, mom!

CindyW said...

Belated happy birthday. I love the post most of all for all the pride, enjoy and love you are pouring out. Grant is lucky to have you as a mom

Melissa said...

If he ever needs a personal ad, he should hire you to write it ;-) It sounds like you've raised an amazing son, and are deservedly proud of him (and yourself too, I hope!) Happy Birthday!