Saturday, October 4, 2008

Let him be

When I was a kid, I was a handful.

I craved constant stimulation. I got bored easily. My gaze was often fixed on future excitement, to the detriment of my ability to appreciate the present.

One of my earliest memories is of my mom sighing in exasperation and asking, "Can't you just be? Why do you always have to be entertained?!"

It's good to be curious, but a habit of gobbling up new experiences like they are chocolates can also lead to a regrettable restlessness that is difficult to reconcile with adult responsibilities. This I know: the most difficult part of becoming a grown up - if I can claim to be a grown up - was relinquishing my ability to spend every waking moment indulging myself in new, fun experiences.

So then there's Graham.

And he's a handful.

"And where are we going today?" is his daily refrain within five minuets of waking.

Graham rarely sits. He bounces from one activity to another. He asks to go to the playground just as we get settled at the water park. He cries to go on the swing just as he swooshes down the slide.

"I want to see Grandma and Grandpa!" he announces when we pull out of Oma and Opa's driveway.

"Can we go for an airplane ride?" he asks when he visits his float plane pilot Grandfather. And so we do. And as we soar together above the clouds I hear him pipe up from the back seat.

"Can we go for a motorboat ride now?"

I know this curiosity, this insatiable desire to continually be doing something else, something new, is part of being a child, but I still fear that he has inherited from both his father and me a tendency to gobble up new experiences like they are chocolates. I worry that his gaze is fixed on future excitement to the detriment of his ability to appreciate the present.

And while I have waxed romantic about the restless wanderings of my youth, my road to maturity was an especially difficult emotional journey: one I am not especially anxious to see my son embark upon.

It has taken me so many, many years to learn how to be content. I hope and pray that Graham will be a quicker study.


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44 comments:

Vered - MomGrind said...

Sounds like my youngest daughter.

My oldest is content. My youngest always looks for the next thing to get excited about.

I know what you mean about not wanting to see them suffer emotionally, but I think it's pretty much out of our control.

allmycke said...

Each generation has to learn from their own mistakes - no matter how much we'd like our children to learn from ours. I think your best bet is to bring up your son to become a self-confident human being - that way he'll be equipped to meet his own challenges - just like you did.
(Used to blog at Life after AC before)

Tracey said...

Alas, each generation must make their own mistakes and find their own paths, regardless of the time we may have spent making the same mistakes and hoping to spare them from them...

Mental P Mama said...

Sigh. I think my biggest fear when my children were babies was that they'd be too much like me, and suffer some of the same trials and pain. As they get ready to leave their nest with me and go off on the next adventure of life, I now know that trials and pain are unavoidable for them just as much as they were for me. And it is okay.

Vodka Mom said...

we hope, we pray, we dream they will be BETTER, SMARTER and HAPPIER than we were. But in the end, they are still just their own person. :-) And it's THEIR experiences that make them who they are.

Zip n Tizzy said...

Just remember there are two sides to that coin, restlessness on one, and a pure enthusiasm for living on the other. Better to be passionate, than completely apathetic.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Maybe you're just the person to teach him out to navigate those feelings.

IRISHKAT said...

What a great post. I love the picture of both of you flying :)

jenboglass said...

I stopepd by because I've seen your comments on other blogs and I thought they were hilarious. Also? Don Mills Diva is about the most awesome "handle" ever. It's eerily close to Donna Mills, who was really a diva.

My child is definitely a handful. My mom cursed me with having a child just like me when I had children. That vodoo works!

Glad I stopped by. Now, I think I saw something about Rick Astley below. I sure hope he's never gonna give me up....

Mr Lady said...

I have the EXACT same concerns with my middle son. It's to the point where he's just reached ridiculous. I hope both our boys can slow it down. And if you figure any trucks out, send'm my way, okay?

organicyogamom said...

Wow! This totally hit home to me............my girl asks not quite in the same way but always wants to know - "what are we going to do next mama?" I wonder what it is and if they will outgrow it. I know I worry about my girl and hope that she doesn't wind up leaping too far into what we are going to do next to enjoy what we are doing now. I hope that all the yoga we both do will help!

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 said...

And this is why he needs YOU as a mommy :)

Helen E.M. Wright said...

As a teacher I enjoyed the child that was a 'handfull'. As a mother of a 'handfull' I have to keep reminding myself of that!!

I also notice that those children who were handfulls when we were young turned out pretty damn good! Those who were 'perfect'...not so much!

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

OH my goodness that picture is very scary to me. I cannot imagine being in control of a plane, up in the air, with nothing underneath me. And having your son on your lap who, at any moment, could push the EJECT button (is there really one of those or is that just in the cartoons?)

You both look very happy, though.

Don Mills Diva said...

Just so everyone knows - the picture was taken before I actually started the plane! I would never attempt to fly the plane him on my lap like that!

Damselfly said...

Sure, sure ... we believe you! ;)

So this is a thing, then? Always looking for the next fun thing? I think my son and I are a bit like that too.

flutter said...

he will be everything and nothing you hope. He will be a constant reminder of your strength and fragility and the beauty of the human condition.

He will inspire you.

Laski Gal said...

He is already just so cool. . . and with you at the helm, it'll all be good.

Pregnantly Plump said...

This really made me think about what traits I am and have passed on. Very interesting. As someone who what-ifs a lot, I think going and doing without question is a great trait, but I guess there are pros and cons to most traits.

Kathryn said...

A child after your own heart. :)
And look at that picture!!! Gorgeous!

April said...

I have the same issue with Sylvia. It gets so hard sometimes to teach them the art of enjoying their own company. (And I have the same problem.)

jen said...

these little mirrors, they get us every time. i could have wrote this post.

Kellan said...

I think he MUST learn to fly - like his Mama - so he will have that gift to escape to when he feels like he needs excitement and new things to see. He will definitely follow in your footsteps - and this is a good thing!

Take care, Kelly - see you soon - Kellan

Mandy /Mommy Cracked said...

It's amazing to watch everything old become "new again" in their eyes, isn't it? It's also scary as hell sometimes.

Trannyhead said...

Aww - he sounds like a fun kid. Growing up is so - BORING, isn't it?

Angella said...

Sounds like the apple does not fall far from the tree...

:)

common mom said...

While I understand what you're saying, there's nothing wrong with wanting to experience new stuff and see all there is out there to see :-) What experiences you had . . . and I can only assume that in some way, you want Graham to have that as well. And what wonderful time for you guys to spend together showing all there is to see - as tiring as it may be ;-)

He is who he is, and it sounds like he's a lot like his mommy and daddy - that can't be a bad thing :-)

Elaine A. said...

This reminds me a little of my oldest...

Love the picture of you two flying together!

Zoeyjane said...

You and me both, sister.

Rach (Mommy Learns to Blog) said...

He sounds so much like my little MH! She is constantly moving and constantly on to the next thing.

It is exhausting!

Even when she asks to do one thing, she's harping on me for something else!

I try to relish it and see the world through her eyes - there is so much to learn, see, and explore it's overwhelming.

And if you put a plate of chocolates in front of me, you can be sure they'll be gone in moments!

LoriD said...

My middle child is like Graham. He starts every day with bright eyes, asking "What are we going to do today, mom?" and after each item on the list he'll say "and then what?" My girls are so content and so easy to please, but that middle child, he's always looking to what's next.

Suzie said...

My mom used to say the same thing to me. These days I cant imagine being bored. I think bordom is for the young.

Jaina said...

I wish I could be bored sometimes.

Cheffie-Mom said...

I'm actually the same way. I'm always thinking and going, looking for something new to experience!

Kimmylyn said...

I can so relate with this.. while I am the more "take it all in" type.. my husband is the exact opposite and my youngest if following suit.. it is hard to make him slow down..

I hope it really does all balance out.. I love the picture!!!

Kat said...

My oldest thrives on change and experiencing new things and I hope that never changes. It is exhausting at times, but I am glad that it is a part of her. I think it could be a blessing when she is older. I understand how it can concern you that he never seems content just being though. Best of luck to Graham and being content.

Amy @ Milk Breath and Margaritas said...

That's a sweet picture! I see my daughter right now struggling with things similar to what I struggled with - too much too soon. I wish I'd slowed down. I try to tell her but - I didn't listen myself! It's harder than it sounds to watch that happening.

Burgh Baby said...

My husband is exactly like that, and oftentimes I wonder if he forgets to enjoy the NOW as he thinks about the next fun thing. Wonder if it's a boy thing?

Anna said...

I still find it hard to be content with the present. I think it is just the way society is right now. As a kid you prepare for elementary school, while in elementary school you look forward to middle school, then high school, college and then a job. I always remember during high school that it wasn't about doing well for the sake of doing well, but so you could get into college and so forth. It's silly really, but that is just how I was brought up

Karen said...

Drat, I was hoping you'd offer some help for those suffering from the never ending fun syndrome. My daughter cannot stand to just be home with us - it's always go here, go there, do this or that...

Colleen said...

I think I grew up a little like that, too. Or wanted to be more like that. Now I find myself in the position of having the means to do a lot more with my kids - I want to do with them and for them the things I couldn't when I was younger. Only now I worry, "what if I'm teaching them that there is no 'down time'? No 'just playing at home?'" I get in the car to go home each afternoon and Nick claps his little hands together, rubs them back and forth and says, "SO...what are we gonna do today, Mama?" He's come to expect that we do something nearly every day!

Adrian said...

Yep, that's my son too. I don't know if it's a control thing or what, but he always wants to know what we are going to do NEXT and then NEXT and NEXT.

However, I have a standard response "Be grateful for what you've just done instead of fussing for the next thing". I've said it so often, I usually only have to say Be grateful... and he repeats the rest. But it works. Then he settles down and stops mooching for the next experience.

Laura said...

I was famous for always saying "I'm bored"
And now, with four bored kids, it is clearly payback.

C said...

Oh! Great post, Kelly! I love the photo of the two of you too!