PERSONAL SPACE: Raise the Child You Have

Not the One You Thought You’d Have

Amy DuBois Barnett

by Amy DuBois Barnett, April 11, 2014


Before my 8-year-old son, Max, could talk, he could sing. Until he could form words, he would hum, a weird little droning sound that scared me until I picked out a few notes of a song that had been playing on the radio. Soon after Max started talking, he began to repeat lines of songs, then verses, then all the lyrics. He would hear a song a few times and have the whole thing memorized: the words, the melody, the inflections. By the time Max was 3, it was like a party trick: We’d trot him out so he could sing the latest Alicia Keys or Michael Jackson joint word-for-word, to the delight of our dinner guests.

As the years progressed, Max became more obsessed with music. And although I thought it was cute, I did little to develop his passion. In my mind, I was raising an academic superstar, a bilingual future engineer or lawyer who plays tennis like Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. So I enrolled Max in the Kumon supplemental study program; I put him in a special dual-language Montessori school; and I signed him up for twice-weekly tennis lessons. One day, I was sitting with Max, trying in vain to get him to stop humming and finish his homework. I did everything I could think of. Then in desperation said, “Max, you need to do well in school to have a happy life.” Obviously, that was a silly statement, but before I could explain that I was referring to getting into college and finding a good job, Max got serious. “Mom, singing IS my life ...,” he told me with the intensity of a precocious child who happened to identify his calling very early.

Read the remainder of this article in the May 2014 issue of EBONY Magazine.

More great reads from Amy DuBois Barnett


by Amy DuBois Barnett

You Deserve the Best

by Amy DuBois Barnett


by Amy DuBois Barnett

Stay in the Know
Sign up for the Ebony Newsletter