Yesterday, Chase celebrated his 14th birthday with a surprise snowfall that weather forecasters failed to predict. A light dusting that was supposed to turn quickly to rain instead dumped more than eight inches across the region, creating travel problems for many including yours truly. It’s always fascinating to see what people do when all along they were expecting to be underwhelmed and suddenly – hello!!!!  We cancelled our birthday dinner plans and had a snowy barbecue at home. Chase rolled with it all because, uh, that’s how he rolls. Easy, breezy.

That’s my Chase.

I must admit that since becoming a parent I have made far fewer deposits into the worry bank for Chase than I have for his older brother. Part of that stems from having already run the exact same gauntlet a few years prior, and knowing that everything turns out okay. But most of my easy going nature when it comes to Chase is simply a result of me reflecting back at him. My youngest is super chill most of the time, which allows me to be the same. Most of the time. Except when I turn something perfectly good into a source of angst for myself. I didn’t say I never worry about Chase, and thus I have admittedly asked myself over the last several years:

How does a kid who goes along with EVERYTHING ever find a passion about SOMETHING?

While I often wondered if I was raising a complacent jack of all trades, master of none, something kept me from pushing my youngest son in any particular direction. Like his father, Chase’s demeanor is a source of comfort to me. Why ruin that?

So for the last few years we have ambled along, like a dusting a snow — predictable, manageable and rather pretty – but not particularly attention grabbing or noteworthy. Chase has happily banged on his drums, played basketball in the rec league, and made great grades with minimal effort. His ambitions have taken the form of pipe dreams that are completely safe because they are completely nonsensical. It’s easy to give up on building a roller coaster in the backyard due to lack of financing and availability of a union crew to do the work. Chase has never set his sights on anything within in reach.  Until now.

When Chase told me at the beginning of November that he was going to do NoNoWriMo, I thought he was kidding.The National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenges writers to pen (or type) an average of 1,667 words each day to total 50,000 (the length of a novel) by month’s end.   It is a daunting task, one that I have yet to conquer myself, but my kid went up to his room and started writing. Every day, he scheduled the time to get his words in, and if he fell behind, the work was quickly made up within days. Chase went on a sabbatical from video games, television and other distractions for the entire month, and finished his novel one day early.  While he has reminded me time and time again, “it’s about quantity, not quality, Mom,” I have a feeling that he wrote a pretty cool story.

At some point around day 20, Chase came to me and marveled at how easy it felt for him to complete a separate essay for language arts. I couldn’t help but beam.

“It’s your writing muscle, bud! You built one.”  Harder, but more worthy than a roller coaster.

And that’s not all. In the last several months, Chase has done more than ad hoc drum banging. He auditioned and was selected for the school’s jazz band. He has really taken to his weekly lessons with a local teacher. And he and some buddies have formed a Mario ensemble (yes, they are arranging jazz pieces based on Donkey Kong).

Suddenly Chase is a force of nature – an unexpected storm of creativity and passion. And like our crack team of meteorologists this weekend, we never saw it coming. But here it is. And, unlike yesterday’s snow, we are delighted by the surprise and hope it sticks for years to come.  Kids find their own way at their own pace, from the time they take their first steps to the day they find their path.

Happy Birthday, Chase. We love every piece of you – and can’t wait to see what the next 14 years bring.


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