From: The Cranking Widgets Blog
Watching a small child slowly grow into an actual, real-live person is an interesting thing. They watch you so intently when you speak, drinking it all in. This gives way to imitation as they take on your specific habits and behaviors (which they’ll then mold to fit their own personalities and such). There are times when I’m blown away by how much my son acts like me, enunciates words as I do, even the slightest mannerisms look like mirror images of myself. It’s one of the first times as a parent that you truly realize how heavily you influence your kids, down to their very essence as people.
Now, all that touchy-feely crap aside, there are times when the whole “learning everything” bit can get a little exhausting. The most common example is the “Why?” phase that hits right around 3 years old (I’m hip-deep in it as I write this). Just for those of you who either don’t have kids or have forgotten how this tends to go, I’ll give you a short example of the kind of thing I mean:
Holden: “Daddy, what is that car?”
Me: “Which car, buddy?”
Holden: “That red car.”
Me: “Hmm, well, it’s a car - and it’s red. What about it?”
Holden: “Where is it going?”
Me: “I don’t think it’s going anywhere, buddy - it’s parked.”
Holden: “Why is it parked?”
Me: “Well, whoever owns it probably doesn’t need to go anywhere right now.”
Holden: “Why don’t they need to go anywhere right now?”
Me: “I’m not sure buddy.”
Holden: “Why aren’t you sure, daddy?”
My feelings during these exchanges don’t resemble annoyance so much as they resemble that mushy brain sensation you get after working an 18 hour day. (Mickie's note: I still get that feeling when my 13 year-old wants to share everything he's learned from the Discovery Channel lately - in a 2 hour conversation @@) The trouble is, I don’t assume he’s asking these questions to annoy or bother me (because I’m fairly certain he isn’t), but it still grates on me. And when it does, I try to keep several things at the forefront of my mind to help me understand where he’s coming from. These also offer the pleasant side effect of stopping me from becoming short or impatient with him.
- He doesn’t know what I know - This may sound like real jackass talk, but it’s true. Your toddler, no matter how many MENSA representatives are knocking down your door, probably knows less about most things than you do. He’s watching a huge world take place around him and he’s trying to figure out what the hell is going on.
- He’s asking because he thinks I know everything (or close to it) - For all the times I’ve told my son “I don’t know”, I can actually come up with acceptable answers to the vast majority of the questions he asks. And it doesn’t take a genius to realize that even a toddler knows to ask the guy/gal who has the answers. Telling your child you don’t know something when you really do but would rather not go into it is something that should be used sparingly.
- He probably isn’t trying to annoy me - Obviously, sometimes he is. But those are rare cases. Kids are extremely transparent in this respect: when they ask a question, it’s usually because they’re curious about the answer. I know a few adults who could benefit from implementing such a habit, don’t you?
- He likes to talk to me - It’s so easy to get distracted by all the crap that goes on around us. Even driving along in the car with my boy, I’m thinking about work, the next blog post, getting a new pair of shoes, what to cook for dinner, etc. When your kids ask you inane questions, it’s probably because the like your attention and would like some right then.
Like I say, I realize there are times when my son gets in a bad mood and gets pissed off and wants to get the old man riled up. But if you were to take all of the times I have gotten riled up v. the number of times he was trying to get me that way, you’d notice a grave disparity between the two figures. This is something that makes me sad to think back on, but does well to motivate me in dealing with him now, or when I’m at my worst.