Delight is a fragile thing. Like a tiny plant pushing up through the earthy crust, it needs space and light and nourishment. Crowd it, cover it up, or fail to water it and it dies.
Busyness is the enemy of delight. A too-full schedule has the same effect that we see when weeds choke out tender plants. Severe crowding will actually produce a misshapen plant because it couldn’t spread its leaves in robust growth. Pack your kid’s schedule full, make sure they are constantly on the run, and you will ensure that there is no time to nurture an interest into a delight. Kids on a clock might survive, but they rarely thrive.
Sometimes a potential delight is covered up or encased in such rigidness that it languishes for lack of air. It is true that some forms of delight need structure to develop, but the overzealous parent can leap too quickly and wind up scheduling a delight to death. Many forms of delight just need blocks of uninterrupted time for the mind to think innovatively or the hands to create. My son called this unstructured freedom his “think time” where he happily wrestled with math and science problems. My daughter’s choice for unstructured time was often dissecting a Bach fugue. For others it is creating a work of art, a story, or a soufflé.
A delight does need nourishment. The proper tools, encouragement, the wisdom of a master can all help nurture this tiny thing into bloom. Provide the basics, then let your child decide what happens next.
A delight can be short or long-lived. Many gifted kids have intense interests for a short time and then move quickly on to another. That is normal. Other times, a delight will enrich a lifetime.
A delight can be discovered at any age. It is just as important for a parent to leave room for enchantment as it is to protect that time for their children.
A delight can grow into a passion, but many do not. In my mind, a delight is a small thing that enriches and adds quality to life. A passion, on the other hand, drives a person’s very existence. It frames life choices, demands attention, and gives a purpose for each day.
If you value joy on life’s journey, leave room for delight!
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