Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Doing Your Own Thing

My oldest son is different from many other boys his age. He will ask to play baseball then end up sitting cross legged in the grass watching a pin wheel spin in the wind. He wants to talk about everything until he understands it thoroughly and never gets bored of details. Given the choice, he would read or play trains over almost any other activity. To put it simply, his mind is much busier than his body.

My nephews, in contrast, never stop moving. They run, kick, throw, jump and flip their way through life with tireless energy. When they ask my son to play, he will join them with enthusiasm for a few minutes then head back in to build a train track. When he asks them to play with him, they will join him then quickly decide that jumping off the couch would be much more fun.

I see myself so much in him. I always knew that other kids didn't understand me. They didn't understand why I wore red tights almost every day for a year in first grade. (Because they were awesome. Ever hear of a signature look?) They didn't understand why I defended the "nerdy kids" when I became more popular in high school. They didn't understand why I was ok just being me.

My son is the same. He is his own person. He doesn't seem to even want to conform to what other boys are doing. If I say, "Why don't you play baseball with Josh?" He will answer, "I would just rather do my own thing."

I struggle with a push and pull. Should I push him to play sports like the "other boys" or just let him do what makes him happy? Even as I type, I know the answer. I can place him in situations that he can make that choice himself and encourage him no matter what path he takes. I can love him for all of his uniqueness and his, dare I say, eccentricities. I think that he just may grow up to do incredible things if he always knows that he is loved for who he is.

How do you keep yourself from pushing your kids to follow the crowd? How do you let them express their individuality?

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