Friday, September 21, 2007

An Inquisitive Child

I've been musing on Dooce's post about her daughter.

I have to say, I asked why? a great deal as a child. In fact, I distinctly remember asking one of my parents a question ("why is the sky blue?") and then asking the same question six months later.

Only to see if their answer would be the same. My Mom called me on it as well at that time - maybe that's why I remember.

Around the age of four my husband would sleep with his feet inside his bedroom, the rest of him in the hallway. He refused to sleep in his bed, and this was the compromise.

In all honesty, I'm pretty certain that most of my friends and people I respect may have been labeled difficult children. Simply because they were bright. They were not about to do whatever you told them to do, they wanted to know why. I'm sure that everyone had their differences, some climbed everywhere so you worried for their safety. Others might have put everything into their mouths or played consistently in the mud/sand. I distinctly remember three or four pieces of gum being removed from my hair (really, I don't remember how they got there). For the record, peanut butter typically did the trick.

It's the conundrum of the parent. You want your child to be the brightest and most intelligent person around. Yet being bright and intelligent has its downfalls. Some people are gifted socialites, gifted engineers, gifted artists. And to some extent that's in the genes.

But this kind of intelligence is messy. It's difficult to deal with. Sometimes you might think wistfully that it would be nice to have a two year old who would sit for hours and color - but really, is that what I want?

In my case, my son is already testing his limits. He does something again, even after I've told him no - looking at me and saying "time out? time out?".

For example, the other night, his sister accidentally hit me with a car. I told her she shouldn't hit and she would go in time out if she hit me again. She stopped.

But my son, noggin - was very concerned. He leaned in, looked me straight in the eye (to make sure I knew exactly what he was saying) and said "time out? time out?". Because typically he will continue to hit or bounce or whatever until he's put in time out. He does not stop after he's told no. If he does, it's rare and an odd situation.

It is frustrating (maddening at times) to deal with - but I also realize that he's really just trying to figure out just where he stands. Because he doesn't know. Instead of dropping the spoon to see if I'll pick it up, this time he's checking to see if I'll respond the same way next time.

He's started experimenting with people instead of objects.

I think I understand now why the parent/child relationship is so important and shapes us throughout our lives. (Yeah, as if it wasn't obvious before, but still) If you don't have that interaction - someone to ask questions to - someone who responds - someone who is consistent - I can understand why it could be devastating to your psyche. Parents have a tremendous amount of influence, power and responsibility. It's amazing anyone is up for the task.


Liseysmom said...

I have an inquisitive child. I believe he is probably the only 1st grader in his school who knows exactly how babies are made, what HIV is and how it causes AIDS, how urine is made and a vast array of other totally not age appropriate things.

Because he asks these kinds of questions. ALL THE TIME. And if I don't know, he tells me to GOOGLE IT, MOM.

C. L. Hanson said...

I feel for you. I feel like I'm the mom all the other moms look down on for having such poorly-disciplined children, but while maybe there's some poor parentling involved, some children are are just more willfull and, well, difficult, than others...

Anonymous said...

Liseysmom - thanks! That's hysterical. If you really want to warp his mind, you should mention that you remember a time BG (Before Google). What did we do back then in the olden days anyway???

chanson - I sincerely doubt (in your case) that there is any poor parenting involved.

Granted, I've only actually seen you and your husband interact with your first son when he was 15 months old - but even still - you guys appeared to be great attentive parents then. I find/found that when kids are constantly monitored, displined, can't move because their lives are so structured - it can cause huge problems as they get older. So your philosphy (sp) of don't sweat the small stuff is a good one, IMO.

Anonymous said...

It made my day to read this post. It seems like so many parents take it personally when their kids test them the way you describe noggin testing you. I think it's awesome when parents have enough maturity and patience to see that behavior for what it is, not an affront to your parental ethos, just a child learning about the world.

Freckle Face Girl said...

They certainly know how to test their limits. :) I always wanted a rambunctious child, but now that I have one at my age & I am pregnant it is difficult. I guess they just keep us on our toes.