Raising two boys, there was often a lot of energy under one roof. I remember my mom telling me, “You don’t want kids who sit in one spot doing nothing, saying nothing … what fun would that be, what kind of people would they turn out to be?”
“Yeah, but just for a few hours might be nice!”
I had a young lady whom I’ve known most of her life, come today for a prenatal massage, her second child. Her first, a 3-year-old boy, is sociable, bright, enthusiastic … exhausting. “I know!” Mind you, this is the girl who, along with her brother, were instrumental in teaching my older boy to ride his bike. “We’ll ride on the grass — it won’t hurt that way if you crash! Go for it!”
And indeed, the bright ones, the clever ones, the verbal ones, do require some energy and some amount of attention to be sure to direct all those good characteristics in the right direction. Love. Time. Humor. That’ll help. Oh, and a nap anytime you can get one.
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I’ve offered to give them a respite overnight. Their son, while very easy-going, doesn’t know me that well so I suggested a brief couple of hours maybe while they dined somewhere to get him accustomed to me and my “happy hippie” house. Hey, I’ll have chicks soon, I’ve got art stuff, a yard, ping-pong and the beach is nearby and LOTS and lots of kids books (saving for the dreamed-of grandchildren). THEN, an overnight.
The thought of it makes me giggle with anticipation. Of course, I’m not naïve. I remember well the meltdowns, the battles of will, the scheduling of activities to coincide with naptime, meals, etc. And the fatigue. Of course, fatigue is even more likely when you aren’t childrearing every day any more.
Still, the thought of playing cars and trucks, making trails in the dirt, looking at bugs and yelling at the top of your lungs — just because — is most inviting. I’ve always got a bucket of crayons, piles of paper, paints and brushes and all other manner of messy things for having fun with big people (okay, usually just myself) and littler souls. It’s always so much more fun to share!
So, my young friend and I were talking about behaviors and how to deal with them. “He’s very strong-willed and likes things his way.”
“Hmmmm, remember, kids are not that different from many adult men … give them options (of your choosing) by presenting them in a story-like format: “I wonder what would happen if someone did it this way or what might happen if this happened …” and let THEM choose. Then they think it’s their idea!”
We both chuckled and agreed it was better to have a child who wants to think for himself and not just fall in line behind the loudest kid on the playground. Thinking for oneself is good at all ages — just exhausting for those of us around him who are pressed to use our brains a little harder.