Giving a teen room to bloom
When my son came home from the mall a few months ago and tossed me a black T-shirt with the words "stage crew" printed in bright-white letters across the back, he wasn't advancing some inside joke.
That shirt would become my Saturday-night uniform.
At 14, Andrew is a mobile DJ on the rise, inspired a couple of years back by an accomplished older cousin who now, while a full-time college student, plays high school proms, books out-of-state gigs, puts friends on his payroll, and hauls thousands of dollars worth of gear in a custom-outfitted trailer.
At our house, we still have to yank the rear seats out of the minivan to fit the 85-pound speakers, strobe lights, fog machine, mixer, amplifier, crates of CDs....
There are plenty of hitches.
We've been known to pull a hairy U-turn for a forgotten light truss or a box of business cards. At one job, we emptied the building after we went too heavy on the fog and tripped an aging smoke alarm. (The water-based effect doesn't set off more modern ones.)
But after about a dozen jobs several for charity, most for pay the kid has come remarkably far.
In the early days, I had to play business manager as well as roadie.
He still needs guidance. But now I hear him out on the deck with the cordless phone, speaking with a confident voice to a woman who's planning a party for her mom or to someone from his old elementary school who wants four free hours of happy tunes for a Family Day event. (He's sure to oblige.)
I know Andrew can mow a lawn, paint a fence, babysit (if pressed). But when I watch him run a show, or just labor over a playlist, I'm glad he also feels driven to create. Many young teens have that fire.