I’m OK with that.

This weekend my whole family plus the neighbor boy was outside playing. The neighbor boy is a sports nut, by the way. At least once a week he comes over decked out in pads from one sport or another. He has equipment for roller hockey, ice hockey, soccer, baseball, golf… That’s just his thing.

Miles, however, is the exact opposite. Case in point:

We’re playing baseball. The neighbor boy has out a bat, baseball, bases and even a pitcher’s plate. He’s barking orders at Betsy to pitch the ball, I’m in outfield. It’s a hit, he’s running bases, I’m chasing. Where’s Miles you ask? He’s sitting in the top of the playhouse. He’s declared he’s the “robot voice” that’s announcing the game. Then a fly ball comes to him. Instead of tossing the ball back into play, he yells “Let’s pretend this is an ANGRY BIRD!!”

And that’s just his thing.

Miles at 4 is a head strong, curious kid who totally lives in his imagination. And I mean totally. At this age he marches to his own drum, which half the time is turned upside down and is a pot he’s cooking in. Or a car. Depends on the day.

Ok, one more example of Miles being Miles:

Our family was at the Johnny Appleseed Festival in mid September. We’ve decided to let Miles pick out some rock candy, so he’s looking at all the colors and the lady selling them is going through the flavors.

“This one is blueberry, this is cherry, this is watermellon.”

“I’d like the white one.” says Miles.

“Oh, honey, you’re not going to like that one, it doesn’t have a flavor.”

“Oh, I’m OK with that.”

Now, if an adult said that to me as a 4 year old, I’d pick a different color. Not Miles, and that’s what I love about him.

One of the challenges of being a parent is that you don’t know the long term consequences of your decisions and actions until the long term has arrived. So, we parents make decisions based on a myriad of sources, but never on long term experience. We may consult teachers, counselors, books, the internet, fellow parents. Partly we go off of gut and partly based on what our parents did for us when they were young (or younger) and just-as-inexperienced parents.

I am totally thrilled he is who he is, but I also know that schools sometimes have a hard time making room for the wildly creative children. They always prefer kids that can follow directions, keep quiet, color in the lines, and do-what-you’re-told-thank-you-very-much. Schools are designed to make factory workers and good employees. They want everyone to fit into a standardized test and write at a right-handed desk. (That may have changed since I was in school…)

As a parent I worry that Miles will struggle with that part. He’s just not a good cog right now. The rules he follows are his, and they’re fluid. The games he plays he leads. He wants to play with other kids but can get frustrated when they don’t follow his rules. He can spend 45 minutes playing with a circle of paper he cut out, flying it around the room like a spaceship. The kid lives in his head. I honestly feel that in the long run it is his independence, his creativity, his willingness to re-invent the rules that will allow him to be successful in this evolving society, and to truly share whatever his unique gift is with this world.

And so, as a parent, we are forever trying to help him strike just the right balance between following instructions and following imagination.

Balance.

I will listen to him talk non stop for 2 hours (seriously) as engaged as I can be, but will ignore his request for milk until he remember to say please.

Balance.

I will try again to show him how to throw a ball, but won’t tell him the badminton racquet can’t be called a “swisher” and is for fighting off bad guys.

Balance.

Of course, he’s only 4 and 1/2, so it may just be a phase. Check back in 20 years, and we’ll see how we did.

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