Parenting lesson: we never want to punish our kids for being what they are. Our son is a dreamer. He was born with a vivid imagination that has his drawn to fairy tales, stories, movies, and now books. The other night he was laying beside me in bed as I read City of Thieves. He told me that he was reading along with me, but because I wasn't sure, I asked him to describe what he'd read. He said, "Some people thought a German soldier was dead but he actually wasn't."
I was so flabbergasted that I started laughing. He was exactly right. Thankfully, he'd missed the part about how the Russian partisans then shot the soldier in the head, leaving his brain matter to seep out into the snow.
When he was grounded a couple of weeks ago from all screens, I checked out from the library some audiobooks for him to fill the void. We'd listened to a few on our summer road trip to Los Angeles, so I got a few in the series he liked most, The Sisters Grimm. He would now, if we let him, be huddled around the CD player for days on end listening to stories being read to him.
Last night all three of us were listening to chapters of The Wolf Princess, which he'd said he didn't like (only because it was chosen by his sister). Despite himself, he was so into the story that when I turned it off and told him to brush his teeth for bed, he grudgingly stomped to the bathroom. Instead of doing his chore, he just stood there though. After a couple minutes, he emerged from the bathroom beginning to tell me something. I held up my hand to cut him off, asking if he'd brushed his teeth. He reacted in anger, shouting, "You didn't even let me finish!" I sent him away, holding in my own anger at having my kid yell at me right after not doing what I'd asked him to do. I took deep breaths and calmed down.
A few minutes later when I went to tell him goodnight, I told him, "I'm going to ask you a question, and you have no choice but to answer it, no matter what." I then asked what he'd come into the room to tell me while he was supposed to be getting ready for bed. It took a few rounds of prodding him, holding my ground, demanding an answer before he said that he wanted to share with me a thought he'd had about The Wolf Princess. That was it. Our dreaming boy's imagination was full to bursting with this Russian story, and it was physically impossible for him to complete the mundane task of brushing his teeth.
This morning an adoption-friend posted on fb about what a dreamer her daughter is. She described a morning time scenario that could have been an exact description of our own house in the morning. Her daughter had the task of putting on her coat and walking to the car. That was it. As an experiment, my friend and her son went to the car to wait for her. Eight minutes later, she had not emerged from the house, and my friend found her along in her room playing quietly. She had completely forgotten that her mom and brother were waiting for her in the car. It suddenly struck me: this is my own son. He does not mean to be disobedient or selfish by making others wait for him. This is how he is wired, and it's not fair for us to get exasperated with this.
In the ensuing conversation in the comments section of this post one of my favorite mothers on the planet shared this encouraging thought:
They will change the world. They'll come up with their brilliant ideas that the Bridgets and Teshes don't but will then go off into another daydream and the Bridgets and Teshes will then get it done. I have the dreamer and the doer. You know that Quinn and Ellia were created in that same beautiful cloud. But, oh yes...getting them moving. The other day in gym class Quinn's teacher called on him during a lecture. "Quinn, do you have a question?" Quinn said no. The teacher then replied "Then why do you have your arm up?" That's when Quinn noticed his arm was raised in the air. "Well, Ms. Mitchell, I guess I'm having one of those weeks." To which I thought to myself, Quinnie you've had one of those weeks for your entire life.
I need to remind myself to make sure I am listening to my dreaming son. He might change the world.