Thursday, October 07, 2010

6 Years (72 months)

Lucas had a cool birthday party at the Solid Rock Gym. He really took to it and scrambled up the walls without any problem. It was interesting to watch all of the kids and get a new perspective on them with the climbing. It's such a different skill-set, one that's not normally broached in our everyday athletic awareness. The kids who aren't the most athletically gifted but who have a knack for climbing totally thrived at the gym. Lucas was one of those guys. He always likes to climb trees or various angles of the jungle gyms at the park or simply trying to scale new heights in the home. We'll even walk in on him in his room today standing on the top of the chest of drawers trying to get at some toy that we intentionally put as high as possible so they won't get it on their own. Apparently Lucas has other plans for them.

I suppose that it's time to find better hiding places for the "secret" stuff that should remain exclusively part of Christina and my playthings because Lucas's behavior is telling us that he's going to discover it somehow. I guess that begs the question of what we should allow our children to see us do. We all take great efforts to shield them from certain adult activities for obvious and good reasons, but we don't hide everything from them. We drink freely around them, figuring that since we've reached a level of maturity where we don't get blasted every time we crack open a bottle then there's not really a problem. But it's no secret that alcohol is a major issue with teenagers and just about everybody that age indulges to some extent. There are so many mixed messages that we are sending kids about what is expected of them as they go through those difficult years of change that it's almost impossible to understand how to experiment productively. Let's face it, teenagers are going to experiment and we'd better start thinking about it now so that we can communicate the difference between what constitutes a healthy level of dabbling and a what is flat out dangerous. Hopefully the way we've communicated with our children over the years will encourage them to hear us even when they don't really want to listen.

Take rock-climbing for instance. I don't think any of the kids that came to Lucas's birthday party had ever climbed walls like that before. They're straight-up, inverted, upside-down, practically any degree of difficulty possible. They looked up with tentative eyes and wondered what the hell they were getting into. Then, once the demonstration was over, each of them took to it with their own variety of confidence or hesitance. Some of them started slow then didn't want to stop. Some did it once then was finished. One kid wouldn't even do it once. One kid's little sister went up with more confidence than her brother who was two years older than her. But they all had their own new experience and how they handled it was reflected in just what type of person they truly were.

Engaging in new experiences are the true tests of our character. We either jump right into it or shy away, or we're really curious or close-minded, or we pretend to be something we're not and miss the entire point of trying something new. No matter who we are or where we came from, learning a new skill or being educated in some form or another helps us grow. Watching Lucas develop from the moment that he was born has been an eye-opening experience for me and I've always marveled at the rapid pace of growth that his little frame has gone through. Well, now he's turned six and it seems like he's beginning to decide what avenues he wants to pursue for his own development. Sure Christina and I have our agenda for him but it's so rewarding to sit down and have conscientious discussions about his feelings and his needs in a way that ultimately respects both of our ideas. It's not always perfect but as long as we keep reminding ourselves that he is a unique individual and not just my child, who I want to coddle and hold, then our relationship will have the chance to grow alongside the constant development that is happening before our eyes.

Just as it was hard to imagine, six years ago, who he would be today, I know that six years from now I will be just as astounded by the little guy who will be staring those teenage years right in the face. And if he approaches them the way that he dealt with that twenty foot sheer wall at the Solid Rock Gym, then he should have no trouble scrambling over the rocky terrain in store for him.

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