Really, it is 6:06am because of the time change. I like to think of it that way, at least for two days or so, it helps me adjust and makes me feel good about myself.
Anyway, I feel like I’ve faced (Lord knows I hope this is as bad as it gets), and stared down, what will be my biggest challenge today …
My six-year old son, Bennett.
Bennett is the sixth child of seven. Bennett is the only boy (other than Dad and one cat) in a sea of estrogen. Bennett has a love of Lego, MineCraft, SpongeBob and inappropriate fart jokes (unless, of course they are directed toward him … and really, they ALL do despite my constant, “Ladies don’t behave this way” mantra). His brain is constantly putting two and two together and then blowing it up, complete with wet-raspberry sound effects. He will wander off into tangents of volcanoes and lava and magma and how an exploding mountain would be cool to build on MineCraft. He cannot eat and carry on a conversation at the same time. Either he is quiet as he eats or his food gets cold as he speaks about anything from finding diamonds and how awesome that would be to how he wants to be a seismologist or a volcanologist or a geologist or an engineer when he grows up.
I’ll be honest, sometimes his brain astounds me. He used the word biome the other day and how he would love to create his own and then live in it. I have starry-eyed visions of Georgia Tech and engineering and making a difference in this world. Of Bennett in a hard hat and tie, signing paychecks. Cutting red ribbons with huge scissors.
But first I need to teach him to get out of the house on time with a jacket, shoes, homework, appropriate snack and sometimes a lunchbox. Therein lies the challenge.
Bennett is the sort of kid where if he has two hours to get ready, it takes two hours. If he has thirty minutes, it takes thirty minutes. He will squeeze every available second and fill all of the extraneous time with thoughts and discussions on how best to blast out gems from the side of a mountain. “First, we need a lot of TNT …” This is all well and good and I recognize it for what it is: an extremely active and creative mind capable of great things. However, he is unable to multi-task and this goes against everything I strive for in my life.
It drives me to distraction. Nuts. Bonkers. And inevitably pits us against each other every minute of the day because my hours are made up of nothing but figuring out how to get the most done in the least amount of time. Bennett’s days are made up of figuring out how to play on the computer without me noticing.
As I look back over the lives of the five girls that came before Bennett, when they were in Kindergarten and first grade, I see so many of the same traits. Procrastination. An inability to manage time. An inability to manage priorities. A certain propensity for freezing in place as soon as a television or a computer screen flickers to life. However I also see an uncanny ability to solve problems. Maybe not the problem of where a jacket is, or shoes or getting teeth brushed quickly, but math problems, deciphering difficult words on the page, or thinking through problems and understanding consequences, are definitely thought about and discussed. Almost always he figures it out.
Everyone always says, “Oh, that’s a boy for you.” I’ll admit, Ben is an enigma to me. How he manages to be the most dramatic one in sea of teenaged girls continually astounds me. I’ve always said, he will either make the very best husband … or the very worst. And I pray daily for the girl who is undoubtedly out there somewhere, destined to be his wife. She has very big shoes to fill. But I have seen these same traits in all of my children at some point or other. We’ve worked through them, and some have learned to solve issues more quickly than the others, but the older ones eventually got there.
My job as a parent is to create another person who can leave my house and do some good in the world. Inspire others through their actions. Be that person. The person who makes things happen, whether it be as big as researching breakthroughs in the world of marine biology (Emma), writing a dissertation on Crime and Punishment (Lucy), becoming an OB/GYN (Abby) or simply helping their little sister learn how to read or teaching others the life-saving skill of learning to swim. (In full disclosure, the previous sentence are goals of those particular kids, not actuals yet other than helping Mary learn to read and the swim part.) Throughout our daily schedule, I constantly have to play the heavy. Set limits, boundaries, expectations. Be Bad Cop. Inevitably, I come up with resistance. To put it in Ben-Speak, it is like two tectonic plates shifting and bashing up against each other causing an earthquake and ultimately a tsunami of emotion and tears … or sometimes we get a tsunami of happiness and pride and accomplishment.
Those are the moments that make it all worth it.