A Lighthearted and Enlightening Conversation With My 10-Year-Old Son
Do you remember what life was like when you were 10?
It can be hard to recall how we felt, what we thought, what concerned us, what excited us, what we dreamed about, and what confused us at 10 years old. But make no mistake, there was plenty going on in our heads and hearts back then.
So what, you might ask? How does that possibly matter to me today? Here’s at least one big reason:
Our hopes and dreams when we were a kid were some of the first and most important clues to our unique purpose in life.
Somewhere along the way, many of us forsake those “childish” dreams in order to “grow up.” It’s not a conscious process but rather an accumulated string of influences and decisions and experiences that leads us to discard our childhood dreams and embrace counterfeits, instead. To drift gradually but surely away from the truth of who we were uniquely made to be and what we were uniquely made to do in the world.
I believe that this drift--nothing short of a loss of integrity, in fact--leads to many of the most destructive ills that we experience as adults and, when multiplied across individuals throughout society, contributes to many of the worst woes we experience in humanity. Rampant mental health challenges, ravenous greed at the expense of others, relational meltdowns, chronic health challenges that result from coping badly with unconscious loss of integrity, destructive forms of competition, and much more.
Aligning our real-world lives with the truth of who we really are and who we were made to be is world-changing work.
I had been wanting to capture a kid's perspective on life and death and dreams and aspirations, and Macgray was already really eager to be on the podcast. So, we seized the moment. It was a blast to do. If nothing else, I have a precious snapshot of my son at 10. But I believe there's something here for you, too. This lighthearted but enlightening conversation will take you back to more innocent, less-jaded, less life-encrusted years--when most of life still lay ahead of you. I hope it touches you and encourages you to let your inner 10-year-old--the part of you that was full of wonder and curiosity and simplicity--back into your life today just a little more. See the world through Macgray’s eyes, and let that experience awaken your inner kid so you can be the best adult you can be.
First, Removing a Speedbump
A quick but important note before we dive into the episode: Part of this conversation is Macgray talking about his dream of being a police officer when he grows up. As I trust you'll see if you tune in, it's the normal aspiration of a young kid to have a specific kind of job when he grows up. Because this episode is airing in the midst of an especially intense time of racial discord triggered by police brutality, though, I thought it was important to mention. Racial injustice is an absolutely critical issue of the highest order--it's just not what this episode is attempting to address. I hope this disclaimer heads off any mental or emotional speedbumps you might have encountered without it and clears the way for you to receive whatever this episode has in store just for you.
Macgray is one of the coolest, most interesting kids I know. Yeah, I’m biased--but it's still true! He’s a gear-head and an aspiring cop. He keeps a pretty stoic exterior where his feelings are concerned, but his waters run deep. It was Macgray who said, “Death brings meaning to life”--the quote that kicked off the very first episode of this podcast. He laughs easily at himself and his innate desire to serve and protect causes him to run toward the fire rather than away from it. He’s also goofy and likes to dance, and he knows what interests him and couldn’t care less about stuff that doesn’t.
When he was two, he stared closely into the baby monitor camera in his room, and in response to me saying “hello” through the monitor, said, “Whatcha doin’ in there, little fella?”
After getting absolutely shelled in goal during a soccer game, he recovered from a meltdown, finished out the half (heroically, in my opinion), then played his heart out and encouraged his teammates on the field in the second half. He is a man in the making, and I love him deeply. It’ll be so much fun to see what mark he makes in the world in the years to come. I think you’ll get a sense for the fun, deep, quirky little dude that I get to call my son when you listen to this episode. So without any further ado, it's my pleasure to present the world through the eyes of my 10-year-old son, Macgray!
Serve & Protect
For about four years, between the ages of 3-7, Macgray was a firefighter-in-training. He put on his turnout gear in the morning, kept it on all day, and ran his own drills to increase his speed putting on and taking off his turnout gear. He loved, lived, and breathed everything firefighter-related. Then, as he shares in this episode, one day he picked up a toy revolver and stuck it in his turnout gear--a gun-toting firefighter. In his mind, this moment represented his gradual transition from a firefighter-in-training to a cop-in-training.
Ever since then, for a couple solid years, it’s been all about law enforcement. The obvious theme here, is serving and protecting those in danger or any kind of trouble. His favorite position to play in soccer was even goalie--protecting his team from getting scored on. My wife and I never encouraged him to pursue these interests. These preferences bubbled up out of him because they reflect his fundamental, innate wiring--the kind of human that he is. It remains to be seen how all of this plays out in adulthood, but at this point, it’s hard to imagine Macgray following a path that didn’t somehow have a “serve and protect” emphasis--and involve a lot of cool gear!
Macgray’s innate impulse is to serve and protect. He was born with it. What innate impulse were you born with? Do you remember? Is that impulse honored and used in your life today?
First Encounter with Mortality
In February of 2019, Macgray’s younger brother, Marshall, had a febrile seizure during a bout with the flu. My wife found Marshall breathing erratically and unresponsive in his bed around 9:45pm. It was super-scary. Macgray watched the whole thing unfold from his top bunk--first us and then EMS working on Marshall. Thankfully, Marshall made a speedy and full recovery. But Macgray remembers that moment as the scariest one of his life so far. He later shared during a parent-teacher conference that he felt like he became “less expressive” about how he was feeling after that episode--an important insight for us as his parents regarding just how traumatic that experience was for him.
Terrorists and Targets
I was really surprised to hear Macgray say that he wishes there weren’t terrorists in the world today. I didn’t know he had any real awareness of terrorism and those who perpetrate it. But he does. And it registers in his impressionable young mind. When I asked him what he wishes that adults knew about what it’s like to be a kid, he responded that we need to be aware that kids are “targeted” by others in unkind ways. I was struck by that language. It seemed to reveal a sense of vulnerability and exposure that I didn’t know he experienced. Being a kid must feel kind of scary, sometimes.
What fears and concerns do you remember having as a kid? What fears and concerns might your kids have today that you’re unaware of?
The Rest of the Conversation
Tune in for the rest of the conversation--which eventually found its way to Macgray’s affinity for ducks! Who would have guessed. But that reflects the wonderful spider-webby quality that a kid’s thinking can have. It was intriguing to get inside Macgray’s brain for a while and see things through his eyes.
Awaken Your Inner Kid!
What part of your 10-year-old self do you want to let back into your life today just a little more? Like me, somewhere along the way did you learn not to want big things and chase big dreams? Or maybe someone told you when you were young that you would always be thus and such or never be this or that? What happened when you were around Macgray's age that's still holding you back today? What happened when you were Macgray's age that has actually contributed to your success?
You are the One and Only You. There's never been anyone exactly like you, and there never will be again. Let your inner 10-year-old speak truth to you about your unique purpose in life, and dare to heed what you hear.
If You Liked This Episode, Check Out These, Too
If this episode spoke to you, you might also enjoy Episode 3, How to Turn Your Imperfections into Superpowers, and Episode 5, How to Become the Boss of Your Fear--both available at andrewpettyisdying.com or wherever you listen to podcasts.
My purpose as a coach is to help you discovery, enjoy, and deploy your unique purpose in the world. Connect with me onFacebook or email me. I'll help you create the life you know you were made to live.
Remember: You ARE going to die, but you're not dead yet. So live an incredible life!