Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Day I Met My Son

No, I have never adopted a child, although I sometimes think of it. And no, this is not about my new son that was born about 6 weeks ago. This is about my two year old. I met my two year old for the first time last night and it was a wonderful experience, although I'm sad it took so long.

Yes, my son has lived with me since he was born. He was even born in my house. So how did I just meet him? Last night was the first time I spent a couple hours alone with my son. As I reflect on it, it's sort of sad. I didn't think I was doing anything wrong. I spend time with my boys, I play with them and I try to give them equal attention. That means that I sometimes give the older boy one on one attention and other times I give the younger boy one on one attention. I have read to my boys individually and together. We talk... In as much as you can converse with a two year old. The thing is that if the younger boy is rarely awake while older brother is sleeping, so if they are both home, the younger boy is never truly alone.

Last night my wife took the baby to a church activity. My older son, knowing his friends would be there, asked to go along. That left me with the middle son for a couple of hours. We worked in the garden for an hour or so. He helped me plant lettuce, carrots and spinach (I hope it wasn't too early for the spinach). He helped me water and he helped me build cold frames so I can get a head start on some warmer weather crops. Then we went inside and played with toys on the living room floor.

I've played with him numerous times before on the living room floor, but my older son is always around and the older boy's personality is sort of absorbed by the younger. I didn't realize until last night just how different the middle boy is. My four year old (the oldest) has always been a talented speaker. He started talking early and can communicate very well for his age. He has even taught me words like contrail and proboscis. He still talks well and is responsible for much of the talking in the house. My two year old (the middle one who I met last night) knows a few words, but has not developed verbally as quickly as his older brother. We're not concerned, but there is certainly a difference.

Last night playing on the floor, my two year old told me the names of all the different toys. I'm talking about dozens of words that I didn't realize he knew. Why would he know them, his older brother spends a lot of time talking for him. It was a sort of game, he would pick up a toy and say what it was. I am not sure whether he was showing me that he knew what it was and how to say it, or if he was asking for a confirmation on what that word is. He would hold up the toy, and say what it was, I would repeat what he said and he would get this huge smile of pride and say, "yeah". We even got into some more abstract words. He played with a little merry-go-round that would throw people across the room and I would ask if they got hurt. He would say, "No, happy".

I think I have done a poor job explaining the experience thus far. Everything I have written about could have occurred with my other boys there. But his personality was totally different when I was alone with him. He often plays rough with his brother (he has to, otherwise he'd get pulverized). Last night he was extremely gentle and soft spoken. I hadn't really seen that before. I think that is who he really is, but he has some defending to do most of the time.

I can see that it is going to be difficult to get alone time with boys, but I think it's crucial. The problem is that alone time with boys takes away from time together as a family. I like being together as a family, but I think we need to divide up on occasion so each member of the family can develop individually. So I'm a changed man. I am going to do things differently.


Emily Allan Wood said...

Hooray for you! I always felt that time alone with my dad was very special time, and I always felt like I could be my true self around him, and that he loved me in a different way than my mom loved me. Spending time alone with each child will make them so happy and so secure. It will be time well spent! I am happy you are making it a priority.

I also saw the kind and gentle, soft spoken side of your middle child. He is a very special little boy.

CoconutKate said...

We do "dates" once a month (on the date of her usually the 20th). We try not to spend much or anything if we can help it, but she can pick a parent and what she wants to do. Usually she picks her dad, which is fine with me since she is home all day with me. Sometimes its a park, sometimes John influences her to go to the driving range. Maybe an idea? (the dates...not the driving range!)