Before I had children I didn’t understand just how different every child’s development timeline can be. Have you ever wondered why one child is so difficult to understand when the child next to him can speak so clearly? Why a boy is such a neat eater when his sister is so ridiculously messy? Or why it takes some children nine months to walk and others nearly twice as long?
Since my son was born I’ve quickly learned that all children have their own timeline for learning. My son learned to stand and cruise the furniture at six or seven months and to walk not too long thereafter. He can climb jungle gym equipment like a child twice his age and has fine motor skills that rival adults, but until the last few months he spoke very little.
Just like adults children have specific skills and desires. My son has an amazing level of concentration for his age. He’s also very good with puzzles and solving problems, but take the kid to art class and he’d rather count crayons and scissors than color. While all of the other children are making shapes out of play dough my son gathers up the tools and cookie cutters and figures out how they make shapes and designs. He’s more interested in how a toy works than the flashing lights that appear on the front of it. He’s the kind of child who wants to turn on all of the switches in a room and push on all of the buttons on the remote.
As he grows I’ve come to understand a lot more about him and surprisingly about myself too. The first few times I took him to art class I wanted him to paint and color. He put a crayon in his hand and made a few lines and circles on the paper, but after a couple of minutes he grew bored of coloring. So he started listing the colors of the crayons and picking up and holding the scissors. At first I urged him to put the crayon to paper, but it was clear he had a different agenda. He looked at me as if to say, “Yup mom all done coloring. I’ve moved on. Why haven’t you?”
I must admit it felt strange to watch all of the other children involved in the activity when he was clearly working on something else all his own. But then I stepped back from the situation and thought, “What am I stressing over. This kid isn’t even two.”
As adults many of us sit in a box we cannot escape from. We go here and do this and expect that. Why would I go to an art class and not paint a pretty picture? But the real interest isn’t always in the art itself. As my son has found a good deal of fascination is with the tools that create it.
I’ve come to learn that my little man sees the world through eyes all his own. There is no need to push him or change his ways, at least not at this juncture in his young life.
I hope that he remains a little engineer. That he looks at the world and questions how things work and how to make things go faster. Although he’ll need to obey his teacher and pass his tests at some point in time I hope he continues to think outside of the box, at least just a little.
The world is full of children who create a picture when you hand them a crayon, but how many of them ask how the crayon was created? My little guy isn’t old enough to ask that question yet, but in time I’m certain it’s the type of question he’ll be asking.