“Why does he even need alone time?” my 2nd boy said.
I had just told my son his younger brother was going to stay home from the outing because...he just needed time to himself. And that was ok.
You see, we added my 12 year old nephew from Oregon to our ranks for the past week.
It’s has been great overall! It turns out he loves dogs and even has some experience with training puppies. (WIN! We have a 9 month old puppy).
He also loves the same card game my boys all play. (Double WIN!)
The only challenge is that this addition of all-cousin-all-the-time can be my delicate for my 12 year who is craves alone-playtime.
We’ve navigated these waters before, and when the two boys were younger, there were rough moments for my 3rd boy.
So when said introvert opted to stay home from the outing yesterday, I recognized what he really was saying was that he needed alone time.
But it cracked me up that my 2nd born, ever-the-extrovert, asked this question.
“Why does he even need alone time?”
Every child has a different, unique personality, with a unique set of needs and interests.
As parents, we do well to recognize that one size does not fit all when it comes to our kids. Though we might instill a common culture and values in our family, how we apply those per child varies. As a parent of multiple children, I’ve definitely learned each child is completely unique personality and is motivated by different goals.
When the boys were really young and needed to pick up toys, I would attempt the “I can pick up more toys than you”-playful challenge. My oldest never fell for it. The other two would predictably turn their frown to a grin and help me pick up because they couldn’t resist a competition.
It’s really important for us parents to respect these differences and provide our children the paths that best suit their personality. We should be willing to investigate and be students of our kids, wondering what makes them tick.
By way of example, at Cafe O’Play we recognize that all kids need physical activity, but some prefer it in the form of dance rather than dodgeball. To appeal to a large range of interests, we compliment this active environment with fine-motor play (like crafts and cooking class) or critical thinking (like in Mad Science class and Camp which begins July 31 (cafeoplay.com/site/event/mad-science-summer-camp/?instance_id=1949).
From the time my oldest boy was able to talk, he was more interested in telling stories than sports. He put on spontaneous “shows” for us at home, recruiting his brothers to be his actors. Consequently, we’ve made the trek for him to be in Performing Art schools these last few years even though that isn’t always easy on us transportation-wise. (He would have loved our up-coming theatre camps in his younger years (cafeoplaytheatrecamp.eventbrite.com).
Part of the adventure in parenting is allowing our children to be who they are and follow their interests and skills. Part of work we have in front of us is to help educate siblings who don’t really understand that personality.
When all of us returned later in the day from our outing, boy #3 was much more willing to engage in play. He and the rest of the guys sat and played cards for a good hour and a half.
And it wasn’t bad that big brother had to learn that little bro was wired differently and needed the balance of alone time.
As an extrovert, that’s hard for him to fathom.
See, years ago, his older brother mentioned he liked being alone as well. What did my extrovert say?