Wednesday, February 15, 2012


The other day I was in line at Walgreens. The cashier was taking forever. A woman was in front of me, with a tiny, tiny toddler standing next to her. He was so small, and walking around like a big boy. Adorable. He was doing a very impressive job at being patient. He took one piece of candy off of the shelf and showed his mom, as if to ask if he could have it. She told him, "no," and told him to put it back, which he did. His mom had given him a thing of tic tacs to eat. He would tip the container upside down until he got a tic tac or two, and then would put the candy in his mouth.

This is a sweet, simple story, right? Kind of boring, actually. But it made a big impression on me. Why? Because if it was my toddler, it would have gone very differently.

First, I wouldn't be able to let him stand on the floor. I would have to hold him, or else he would run away to explore (aka, see what he could get into). If for some reason I let him stand on his own and he didn't run away, he wouldn't have taken one piece of candy off of the shelf. He would have cleared the shelf of all its candy, and then kicked it all around with his feet as fast as he could so that he could get as much enjoyment from it as possible before I rain on his parade by picking him up.

If he had a container of tic tacs, he wouldn't tip it over to retrieve a piece or two. He would have tipped it over, noticed that those little things fall out, making a cool sound and looking cool in the process, and shaken it until the candy was all over the place. He does it with his raisins every day. Every single day.

And if I held him for more than 30-60 seconds, he would have been squirming and screaming uncontrollably by the time we made our way to the cashier, driving everyone around us crazy.

That's why I love shopping carts. He is a perfect angel when in a shopping cart. He almost never tries to get out of them.

That's also why I love his smarts. I quiz him all of the time in circumstances like that, to keep him busy and happy. I say, "I see a heart! Do you see a heart?" And he looks through the whole store from the safety of his shopping cart until he finds the heart, exclaiming, "I see it! I see da heart! I see a heart ober dere!". I'll look at a magazine, with a really busy picture, full of a whole bunch of stuff, and ask him if he sees a camera. He can look at that busy picture for a whole minute straight, until he finds a camera in the picture, that's the size of his fingernail. And then we go through it again. We find everything in magazines and books. If I don't keep his brain going, I can't stop his body from going.

And nothing wears him out. Once we had a flight that was during his nap time. We got the genius idea to let him run around the terminal before the flight to "tire him out." Worst.idea.ever. An hour of running didn't tire him out. It winded him up. It was a miserable flight.

All these things got me thinking. This is obviously who Caleb is. It has nothing to do with parenting. I don't imagine that his energy level is going to change. Ever. So what happens when he starts school? Will he fail all of his classes because he can't sit still long enough to listen to a lecture? Will he drive all of his teachers and classmates crazy? Or will he get a great teacher who recognizes that he's more than some high-energy kid, and provide him with enough stimulation for him to excel?

And what can I do to help him be prepared for that part of his life? At this point, I can't even give him more than one crayon at a time. Why? Because they get turned from writing utensils to something that's really cool to twist together in your hand. More than two are really cool to push around a table to watch them roll together. A whole handful is great for throwing everywhere and watching as it rains crayons.

We can't brush him off as some kid with ADHD. Medicine won't change him. Remember what the doctors said? I've asked a lot of medical professionals if they think he has a sensory processing disorder, and they said that he's just a regular two-year-old boy, who is very smart.

I have this friend who is amazing. She can do anything in the world. She sets high goals, and always achieves them. From what I've heard, she was a lot like Caleb when she was little. Very...exuberant. Spirited. High-energy. Lively. Crazy. Yes. Crazy. Her parents did a great job of channeling all of her energy into learning, specifically about the gospel. And it sure shows! You could definitely call her "successful."

So how do I channel Caleb's energy into something productive? I think I need more energy, if I'm going to do that! And what productive thing do I channel him towards, anyway? My goodness, it's obvious that this child has the potential to do anything he sets his mind to. He is so smart. We just have to find something that he is willing to set his mind to. That doesn't bore him after 60 seconds.

So I've been thinking about music lessons of some sort. He loves music. He loves his harmonica. He also loves to read. He has most of his books memorized. Seriously. If there are a lot of words, we say the first part of the sentence and he says the last part. He also loves to do things with his body, obviously.

So I was thinking about enrolling him in piano lessons. Not now; maybe next year. That could keep his mind and his fingers going at a pace that he is comfortable with (rocket fast...that's his pace). Or maybe doing gymnastics or dance for now. I think it could be very good for his busy brain.

I just feel so much like what we do as parents, regarding Caleb's energy level and directing his energy towards something productive, could make or break him. He could be successful or not, and it's all up to how we teach him to channel his energy. And lately I feel like we can't just keep him locked up in a room full of toys and books any more. It's time to let him something. Anything. Whatever he likes.

I love Caleb so much. I wouldn't change him for anything. Well, for his sake I maybe would change that he has EE.... But please, oh, please let Russell not be so high-energy. I don't know if I could keep up with two "spirited" kids. It's exhausting. But I know it will pay off. It already is. I love watching him learn. Not in a million years would I want him to "learn" how to calm down. I want him to learn how to use his energy towards great things. He's such a great kid!


Heather said...

I think dance or gymnastics/tumbling would be awesome! I don't really know exactly what they do, but maybe Kindermusik would be another fun option. Your story at the beginning was awesome to me too- I can't believe there are toddlers like that!! But I love my curious little boy too :)

Nana said...

I like the idea of music because there are so many options when it comes to music. There's logic in music in my mind, and it's a great way to channel emotions. The body needs movement too, so dance would be great. People think of girls when it comes to dance, but the boys are incredibly athletic who dance. Whatever you and Caleb choose to do, it he likes it, he will excel.

When I asked the Dr. about one of my kids who was running me ragged, he said to keep her challenged.