Same stock; different flowers

In my blog post Letting your Flowers Grow I made note of some small milestones in the lives of my children as they transition to the next stage of their lives, gaining independence and skills to work their way through the world.

Something I’ve been guilty of recently and I’d like to share is about looking at your children for who they are as individuals as opposed to a part of a group (aka ‘family’). I’ve come to realise my boys are substantially different people – akin to having been grown from different seeds. This is an important point to remember about children; they all start from the same stock, however as they develop and grow, they become themselves. It’s important for us to realise we must let them become themselves.

As parents (especially of younger children) we must do our best to resist comparisons between siblings. Things like ‘why don’t you act like your brother (or sister)’, or ‘have a look at X, he’s being a good boy and tidying up after himself, why can’t you’. Fundamentally, each person has different drives – what works for one may not work for another. Each person has a unique listening & learning style, and one of the best ways to keep these young minds fed and nourished is to try to understand how each of your children respond. Some seem to work only when pushed; some seem to innately know (or sense) what to do next; Some daydream the day away.

I am on a personal mission to understand how we think and how the brain works, not only for myself as part of my passion for learning but also to help communicate with my children better. One of my 2009 goals is:

Improving the quality of my relationships….includes spending more time with my boys.

Also, one of the other things I am working on:

Helping reduce the amount of stress I cause in my family (by snapping less and thinking more) – this will also help me get rid of thoughts as quickly as they come

are both linked to trying to understand how the brain works and how we learn. Applying what I learn to myself + relationships to the ones around me are important part of growing as a person. Part of my recent book buying spree is aimed at helping me achieve this. It’s a difficult (but not impossible) path to help change ourselves, but ultimately there is only one person who can change anyone else – the rest are there as inspiration or motivation. I hope to {one day} be the inspiration or motivation for people I come into contact with.

Letting your flowers grow

A recent blog post titled “When The Petals Drop” by Sean (aka @writerdad on Twitter) prompted me to share some of my ‘petal’ moments with my boys. We generally don’t notice some transition points our children make but when we do, they’re quite powerful, even after time has slowly (or quickly) passed by.

  • Since age 6, my eldest (now 7) needed no help buckling his seat belt. Master 4 can put on one of his 2 belts in his child seat. I cannot remember the turning point where 7 no longer needed our help – now I think back on it, it’s all a blur. Where did that time go? I know that one day too soon 7 will be out of the sbooster eat and 4 will take it over.
  • Tonight, Master 4 says “I’m longer than the bath now” and he sure is – I can remember washing him in the bath when he was a bub; I looked at him and wondered when he got so tall ? He’s in pre-school now (and loving it) but will be ending that part of his life at the end of the year, off to big school like his brother.
  • Master 4 can now make breakfast for the family (except we have a rule that they are not to use the Microwave for porridge without an adult – some mornings I wonder where they would find such a person *grin*). Whilst on the surface this may not be a ‘big thing’, it shows a streak of independence I’m not sure we’re ready for?
  • Both boys dance and sing around the house and love listening to music – before the end of a song at least one of them are able to hum along with the melody and sometimes even pick up some of the words. Current favourites are Do You Know Your Enemy (Green Day) and Foreign Land (Eskimo Joe). When they started to sing and dance (especially Master 4) I cannot recall.

Like Sean, I, too have had a chance to just ‘watch’ Master 4 at Pre-school, but only for a few mins before he saw me and rushed over. During reading time, he was engaging well with the teacher whilst reading a story, interacting and following intently.

As parents, it’s our aim to best prepare our children for their later years. Children are ‘on loan’ to us for such a brief period of their lives – it’s up to you to lay the groundwork that will see them succeed once they mature and find their own way in the world. Having such a chance that Sean describes to see your children in their environment is truly priceless:

It was wonderful to see Max as a student without him knowing I was there. He sang, he danced, he took turns. He said thank you, he smiled, he laughed.

Enjoy the times you do have with your children, as best you can. Whilst both Sean & my accounts are personal, I’ll take this moment to recognise those who are not able to spend time with their children for a myriad of reasons; for most parents, we all hope our children will grow up to be happy, healthy members of society, and this hope weighs heavily on everyone’s heart & mind.

I’m off to play with my boys in the wonderful winter sun!