This was code that I deciphered immediately. The Bean had been struggling with drawing. He’d recently developed a burgeoning interest in art, but was getting frustrated when his drawings didn’t meet his exacting standards. This had led to a few McEnroe-style tantrums before he’d shut down and refuse to do the thing that he cannot.
Later that night the Bean and I had a chat.
“Do you know how you get good at anything?” I asked him.
“Practice?” he replied.
“Yes. And you can’t give up.” I sat on the edge of his bed and looked him in the eye. “I always wanted to play guitar for my whole life. One day I bought one, took a few lessons and started to practice. But I wanted to be better at it than I was. I got frustrated and quit. I never learned how to play guitar.”
“But you should learn. You shouldn’t have gave up. You should learn guitar.”
“It’s too late now,” I told him. “I have a busy job and you guys to look after.” And a blog to write and movies to watch and the occasional video game to play, I thought. “But you can learn from my mistake and when you get frustrated, stop and take a break, but don’t ever give up.”
The next night, as I lay in my favorite position on the couch—snuggled next to WonderWife™, Food Network on the tube—she said, “Do you know what the Bean’s takeaway was from your conversation last night?”
I smiled at the thought that my story might have gotten through to him. “No,” I said. “What?”
“He wants to learn how to play guitar.”