I ran into an old photograph just a few days ago that I took when our oldest child, son Curtis, was enjoying his first Christmas when he was only four months old. I think he was sitting on his grandmother Miller’s lap at her home in Idaho, looking at a white stuffed Christmas bear.
The look on Curtis’ face in the picture was one of curiosity. It looked like he was examining that bear closely, trying to figure it out — seeing what made it “tick.” Like he was deep in thought, focusing so intently on a simple stuffed animal.
We still see that look on his face to this day. Now, he’s an honors student at the University of Utah, studying economics and earning a 4.0 grade point average last school year.
His curiosity and his razor-sharp focus are paying off for him.
This was what I envisioned for our first-born child back in May of 1995, when I received an associate degree in computer software engineering at Idaho State University. A year or so before that, I attended a graduation ceremony at ISU and watched someone take their child across the stage to receive their degree from then-ISU President Richard Bowen. To me, a sense of symbolism came to mind. The next generation needs the best education it can get. I wanted to see my first child get that kind of education — even better than the one I was getting. I decided then and there that Curtis would walk across the field at ISU’s Holt Arena — before he’d reached his fourth birthday — with me as I received a college degree.
I wanted that gesture to set the tone for his own future. Curtis would be a scholar, the best he could possibly be. That photo from his very first Christmas — with Curtis concentrating so hard on that stuffed animal — was just one of the first signs of how true that would become in his future.
Here he is — going into the equivalent of his junior year at the University of Utah, in the school’s honors program, earning a perfect GPA, and he’s even working part-time as a college tutor like his “old man” did back in his final year of college, anxious to get back to his own studying now — and Curtis is living out that dream I had of him being a scholar.
There’s a lot of pride from his family behind that.
I’ve called Curtis our family’s “Renaissance Man” because of his many talents. He’s gifted in math, political science, writing, and art. He gets into different “hobbies,” and one of them he’s gotten into through the years has been writing computer programs. I went into his room late one night a while back and saw what looked like source code for a program on his laptop screen, and I asked him what he was doing.
“Oh, writing a game program.” He said it ssssoooo … matter-of-factly, like it was no big deal. To him, it wasn’t a big deal.
He gets his artistic talent from his mother. He’s got some gifts there too. If he practiced at it more, he’d be a fine piano player. I’ve sat in recitals and piano competitions and been moved to tears at how well he performed Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata,” playing it with great touch and emotion. I’ve heard him numerous times at the keyboard, poking away at the opening of Chicago’s “Saturday In the Park” — by ear — and doing a good job. He’s a fine visual artist as well. He did a self-portrait once that makes him look like he’s got an angry scowl on his face. It wasn’t anger. It was his intense focus as he concentrated so hard on his own facial features.
Curtis can do whatever he chooses to do and do it well, whatever it is that he chooses to do at a particular moment in time. That’s where the razor-sharp focus comes in, just like he showed that Christmas at four months old as he studied that Christmas bear.
Happy 21st birthday, Curtis! You’re a fine young man.
Copyright 2012, Daddysangbassdude Media