“There’s nothing that can help you understand your beliefs more than trying to explain them to an inquisitive child.” ~ Frank A. Clark
Prior to having children, I thought I knew myself. I also thought I knew my husband. Our parents were best friends, we spent nearly every weekend and holiday with each other. In many ways we were cut from the same cloth. We grew up with the same family values, the same work ethic, the same beliefs about child-rearing, so when we got together we knew our life together as partners and parents was going to be smooth sailing.
Yeah right! Nothing like having a couple of kids to make you question everything you have ever believed in. Not to mention that it pushes you and your spouse’s relationship beyond limits you never even knew were there. My husband and I have found that in our home there is one child, in particular, that continues to keep us on our toes and re-examining our beliefs and values on a regular basis — Thing 2.
Thing 2 is bright, full of energy, argumentative, a non-stop talker, and a stickler when it comes to what’s fair and what’s not. He has a real problem when people don’t follow the rules, although he doesn’t seem to mind bending the rules for himself on occasion. Thing 2 is also extremely kind and sensitive (though those characteristics seem to be non-existant when it comes to dealing with his younger brother). He also is competitive, and intense, quick-witted, and really funny (but he often doesn’t know how to quit while he’s ahead). Oh, and did I mention Thing 2 has ADHD which makes all of the above even more difficult to deal with at times?
Thing 2 has always been full of questions. His inquisitiveness used to be cute. I remember his preschool teachers reveling in the fact that he was one of the few four-year-olds who seemed to understand and want to know more about whatever topic they were discussing — space, bugs, the farm, the wilderness. Now, sometimes his questions are frankly annoying. Isn’t that an awful thing for this former child psychotherapist to say? But he needs to know every detail of EVERYTHING, and more often than not, I do not have the answers. So thank you, Thing 2 for constantly reminding us of how little we really know. Two college-educated parents, one with a master’s degree, and my husband and I are clueless when it comes to Thing 2. It’s hard to admit your 13-year-old child is smarter than you, but I truly believe he is.
Thing 2 also has no problem calling us on our parental inconsistencies, pointing out ways in which we are not parenting fairly, and he regularly teaches us about some new and interesting topic, that up until then we knew nothing about. And what do I do to encourage his intelligence, his need to know and learn more? Well often Thing 2 is told to “Stop Talking!” Give me my Mom of the Year Award now for that one. Other times I ask, “Have you taken your medicine?” as if an ADHD pill will curb this child’s inquisitive mind.
And then there’s my changing beliefs about that, the medicine. This kid has been popping pills since he was 7-years-old, and believe me they make a HUGE difference in his ability to focus and not drive everyone crazy. But I could say the same about my antidepressants, and I’m finding that after two years on them I am looking for ways to wean myself off because I don’t like putting excessive substance into my body. But I’m not worried about the effects of six years of various medications on my KID?
This parenting thing never ceases to keep you alert and constantly questioning and re-evaluating everything you’ve held dear in the past. But I think we and our children deserve this, and then some. How boring life would be if we always stayed the same, and never grew into more than our 18-year-old selves that left home for college. And what kind of example would we be for our kids?
Without Thing 2 life would be a lot calmer maybe, but I wouldn’t be learning nearly as much about myself and the world without him. I think everyone needs a Thing 2 in their lives to love, and learn from, and admire … but don’t let him know that, it might just go to his head. Did I mention this kid does not lack the slightest bit of confidence in himself? And that can be kind of annoying, too.
I love you Thing 2!