You Can Do Anything You Put Your Mind To


Why can’t a surgeon be a 3rd baseman? (Image via Wikipedia)

When parents say to their children “you can do anything, be anything you put your mind to” I know they mean it. My parents meant it because they saw my potential. I said the same thing to my son, and it was from the heart. Today, tomorrow and next week, people all over the world will believe those words as they say them to their chubby cheeked five-year old.

Anything implies a lot. But there’s only one President, only a few hundred people who play major league baseball and scores of folks who keep the world spinning without being noticed. For a while, I had the idea that I could pull off being a neurosurgeon/third baseman. In the end, I’m happy with being a police officer/hostage negotiator/wannabe writer.

My Son’s Missing Piece

Some of us hear our parents’ encouraging words and automatically add in “within reason”. Others don’t know there is a within reason clause. I am realizing that my son lacks the within reason clause. He has a history of making decisions, then bringing them to life.

When he was little, he came home one day ticked off that someone else was student of the week. We talked, he made a decision, and the next week he brought home a certificate. When I thought about it later, I laughed and thought about the coincidence of it happening the week after our conversation.

Or was it a coincidence?

My son played baseball. He liked pitching, and he wasn’t bad for nine years old. Besides, if I’m going to volunteer to coach, my kid gets to pitch sometimes.

One game, he hit two batters in a row. He plunked one in the leg, the other in the back. The umpire looked over at me to see if I was going to put in a new pitcher.

I walked out to the pitcher’s mound. It didn’t seem to occur to the kid that I was there to tell him he’d pitched well but it was time to give someone else a shot. He just knew there were two outs and he needed just one more. He struck the next guy out. Before he did, he told me he would.

He Won’t Stop

When middle school came, music became the boy’s thing.

Woody Herman Rochester, N.Y. 1976

Woody Herman (Image via Wikipedia)

We ended up back at his middle school in his senior year of high school. He was there with a few others to recruit for the band at the big school. He pointed out a plaque with the names of the kids who’d won an award named for jazz musician Woody Herman. He told me he’d gotten himself tossed in time out in 6th grade and did his time in a chair under that plaque. Since he had time to think as he sat there, he thought it would be cool to win that award.

I remember him getting the award at his last middle school concert. Until he told me that story I didn’t know why he was laughing when he shook the director’s hand.

On a vacation trip, at least five years ago, we crossed paths with a young man who was completing his college internship doing environmental work at the beach. Later that evening, my son announced that he thought he would get a similar gig for his internship when he got to college. I thought about tempering his expectations. After all, how many people fall into an internship at the beach they’ve been going to since they were in first grade?

High school came and he continued his ways. He stayed with his music. He added a second instrument.  His grades came up. We shopped for colleges. My son applied to one. One college. He’s in his second year at that one college. He just got an internship. Yes, that internship.

I meant it when I told him that he could do anything. I worried when I said it because I didn’t have anything to back it up but love.

Anything he puts his mind to. Take it to the bank.


22 Comments on “You Can Do Anything You Put Your Mind To”

  1. You are awesome. And Omawarison is also awesome for being the one to put his mind to it.

    Feeling a little sentimental today, so thanks for this one…

  2. Lenore Diane says:

    I am flooded with thoughts. Sometimes, when I find a particularly moving post within the blogosphere, I will share it with Rob. But, Rob is not a blogger – he is an engineer. (Trust me, that makes sense.)
    I don’t follow many blogs written by men, though I certainly follow you. And, I’ve shared many of your posts with Rob. I will share this one, too.
    You’re a good Dad, Oma. Thank you for sharing this with us – the story and the lesson.

    P.S. The Negotiator is one of my favorite movies. Just had to say it.

    • omawarisan says:

      Thank you!

      I’ve got engineer friends, theyre good folks. It is interesting to work with them because they approach things so differently.

      The Negotiator auuugh. Great story but the bane of my existence. I’ve honestly had people quote the movie while I’m on the phone with them. “We can do this the right way, or you can pretend it’s a good idea to put your life in the hands of a movie writer.”

      • spencercourt says:

        . “engineer…they approach things so differently”

        I’ve been working with engineers since 1983 and I love it. They are logical and straight forward. Not at all like elected officials…

  3. All you need is love. . .

  4. We Found Him Captain! says:

    A wonderful story! I have a lump in my throat. They say the fruit does not fall far from the tree. Determination can be a marvelous thing…….
    I recall my son sat on the bench for nearly the entire baseball season as a kid. he was too shy to ask the couch to play him. Finally with two games left, he asked the coach to play him. He hit the first pitch out of the park,ran the bases and sat right back down on the bench. He is not as shy anymore but he never stopped being humble. He reminds me of you and your son.

  5. Jackie Cangro says:

    I’m always amazed by those people who can seemingly call their dreams into reality. I wonder what it is about their outlook on life that is different from most of the rest of us.
    Good luck to your son to “do whatever he sets his mind to.”

  6. Todd Pack says:

    You’ve raised him well, Oma.

  7. Debbie says:

    Well done, Dad, well done! This reminds me of my own son — he started in elementary band in the percussion section, stayed there four years (rising to section leader in middle school), then switched to trumpet the summer before his freshman year in high school. Four years later, you guessed it — he was section leader there! Best I can say is, Let’s just get out of their way, for their determination knows no bounds!

    • omawarisan says:

      A trumpet player with rhythm? Man that’s big. We did the instrument switch too, added tuba in his junior year because the band needed one. He’s back to his ‘bone in college.

      We need to write a book about band parents.

  8. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    Aww. I love him. I love his spirit. You raised him well, Oma.

  9. Katybeth says:

    It really is hard not to temper those expectations because we die a thousands deaths for a thousand years longer when our kids are hurt or disappointed. . .you are a brave dad and your son learned the secret very young…you can do anything you put your mind to… it just makes it a little bit easier when those you love clap and believe in you.

    Your son must believe you are a writer because in my humble opinion you never tell a story better than when it is about him….

  10. Blogdramedy says:

    Nice one, Oma. And it’s not even close to Father’s Day…I suspect you are the one Dad who doesn’t get a tie…well, not JUST a tie. 🙂

  11. […] him, but just couldn’t settle on one in time to get it done. Late in the day I remembered a comment he left on a post that I wrote last week. So here, in tribute to my father, is the true tale of that one Little League at bat he still talks […]

  12. planetross says:

    “Inward Satisfaction” is the biggest motivator … goals are overrated.
    You sound like you have a cool kid.

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