It’s funny how much your kids can be like you and at the same time…not. My side kick is so me in so many ways…from his uncanny ability to both understand and relay sarcasm to his willingness to come to the aid of a complete stranger in need…but in others, he is utterly and completely himself.
At 8 I was a confirmed reader. I don’t even know how many times my mother had to tell me to go play outside. My response: go outside and sit on the porch with a book (but I was outside) or play act a scene from a book I’d just read (my brother hated that). I can actually measure my life in the books I’ve read. At 8, Charlotte’s Web was under my arm. At 9, I discovered Gulliver’s Travels in the midst of my father’s Reader’s Digest collection. I also snuck and started reading The Caine Mutiny.
I snuck to read The Caine Mutiny when I was 9 years old.
Well, let’s just say when he’s sneaking it ain’t about reading.
My idea of fun at his age was curling up in a corner in my mother’s living room away from everyone in this one spot where the sun light warmed the carpet…with a book. I loved my family. I loved our family dinners. I loved our outings. I hated the crowds and negotiating my space on the couch or at the kid’s table or in the car. When it’s a lot of people negotiating is all you do as a kid. Even though I’m my mother’s oldest child, most of childhood was spent in a 2 family flat with a host of relatives including 3 uncles (only a few years older than me) and 2 aunts (only a few years older than them). It was a constant party.
But I’m an introvert, see. Parties are not really my thing.
I can do parties. Especially in small doses and with good music and food.
But not everyday. Not all day. It wears me all the way down.
My kid. Completely opposite. He is the extrovert to my introvert. He is the Superman to his mom’s Clark Kent. His genius is people. It’s how he does his best work. It’s where he is his best self.
Learning, reading, writing…these were my things. I relished them. I was smart. I identified as smart. Like if smart were on the census as an actually demographic identifier I wouldn’t even go to female, black (not Hispanic), or anything else, I would just check smart and be done with it.
As a little girl, I never wanted to be called cute. I didn’t want people thinking about me as adorable or sweet. I hated that freaking poem ‘sugar and spice and everything nice.’ Who the hell came up with that bullshit?
I may have actually asked my mother, ‘Who the hell came up with that bullshit?’
Nope. I didn’t want that…I wanted everyone to recognize me for being smart and talented and good at stuff like reading and writing and singing. I was task and accomplishment focused. I enjoyed mastering the pragmatics of life. I dreamed in goal setting. That was my ‘fun.’
But my kid…like right now I’m sitting here typing and he’s in his room having a full on wrestling match with an invisible Kevin Owens and Rocket from Guardians of the Galaxy (Spiderman is the referee). He’s not into ‘everything in it’s place and a place for everything.’ He likes to have everything out in the open where he can see it, touch it, feel it, experience it. He doesn’t feel accomplished when a task is complete. He doesn’t want a pat on the back for finishing his homework, he wants acknowledgment that he actually started his homework. A “C” to him isn’t the end of the world, it’s just a lap in the marathon.
Like you have NO idea how difficult it is for me in my left brain ‘Smart is Good’ and ‘Let’s Just Read and Find Out’ introverted self to hold space for my right brain ‘Let’s Make Friends’ and ‘I Want To Touch It To Learn About It’ extroverted child.
Homework is hell for us.
Seriously. Homework is the worst time of the day. When I get to my mom’s house after work and his homework is done, I want to kiss my mother and tell her how absolutely amazingly wonderful she is (which she totally is)…I want to dance a Holy Ghost dance and shout ‘Hallelujah‘ because homework with the “Smarty Pants Mommy” (he calls me that) and the “Little Drummer Boy” (he actually plays the drums) is hell. So anytime someone wants to step in and cover that…I will step aside. Seriously. I will step aside. No helicopter here. At. All.
It’s getting better though. Mostly because he’s teaching me that it’s his life, so he has to figure it out his way with help from mama. Being a task orientated type of person, I can be so into the process of getting a thing done that I never take into account how something is done. My kid is completely about the how of it all. He doesn’t just want to get the tornado project done, he wants to experience how a tornado works and he wants you to experience how a tornado works. So I’m learning that for him to get a concept he needs to teach the concept. Once he’s able to share his information with someone else, that lesson gets locked into the vault of his mind because now he associates the lesson with a relationship and relationships are his genius.
Now all that sounds good when it’s not 8:15 pm on Tuesday and there are still 3 homework pages left and he’s looking at me crossed eyed (because he thinks it funny).