“Billy. Sam. Frank. Boy! Come to the table. It’s suppertime.”
Has this ever happened to you? Trying to get one of your kid's attention and for some reason you have a complete brain fart and couldn’t remember their name if your life depended on it? Well... it has happened to me and several other parents I have spoken to. It’s kinda funny when we reminisce about it but I got to thinking, mixing up or forgetting a name happens, it isn’t intentional. But what happens when we don’t hear our kids and we are trying to talk to them in a language they don’t understand?
Every Child is Unique
Let me give you some examples. I have 3 kids - 7, 5, and 2 years old. The older they get the more their individual personalities come to the forefront.
My oldest; smart as a whip and could read by the time he was 3 - humble brag. He is also extremely energetic and can run all day without getting tired. As energetic as he is…he is waaaaaaay more sensitive than energetic. What we have learned as parents about him is that if he doesn’t have any down time to just read, do a puzzle, or play with Lego by himself we are probably headed to meltdown city. Now, will he just voluntarily take that quiet time? Sometimes. Other times it needs to be encouraged.
Our middle child, or as I like to refer to her as my Princess Warrior, is super creative and artistic. She loves to sing, paint, bake, cook, read, and make up games with her stuffies. She started talking in full sentences before she was 2 and basically hasn’t stopped since. She is the one, at least to my estimation, that is most affected by a lack of sleep.
There is this delicate balance between allowing her to nap and dealing with a kid who is bouncing off the walls at bedtime, or a grumpy kid who refuses to talk and only answers in whines and grunts - a sure sign that she is tired. Sometimes we have to bite the bullet and let her have a nap. Other times we push through and hope the sleep she got the night before can sustain her. And this is pretty difficult due to child #3.
Our youngest, and also the early riser, is full of spunk and energy. The way he lights up a room, or how he has this uncanny way of making everyone laugh, is endearing and adorable. Not so much at 5:30 am when he is declaring to everyone in the house that he is awake and we all should be as well. However, he is also the one who is the first to be willing to help with any chore or odd job around the house. He really wants to be a part of things. And if he gets left out or isn’t allowed to join a game that his siblings are playing...he will let everyone know about it.
So all three of our kids are different. Sure, there may be some overlap in activities or things that they love to do. But being able to tell them apart, and honouring the uniqueness of each one of them, is...well...work. It took me a long time to figure out that an activity which I enjoy or find relaxing, my kids might find completely boring. Or something that one of them needs, like quiet time, is probably going to look different for each one. Throw in a global pandemic. Most days I don’t get or understand it, so it will be completely baffling to a kid.
Parenting and Differences Between Children
My best piece of advice would be, just be present with your kids. Put the phone away - something I am guilty of not doing enough - and just be with your kids. Join them. Enter their little worlds. Really get to know them and the things that make them unique.
Look, I am not an expert but I am a parent who is fumbling along trying to do the best I can. If you are able to relate to this and are possibly looking for someone to talk to while trying to navigate the sometimes frightening world of parenting...give me a shout 613-877-4148 or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s work together to find ways for you to connect with and honour the awesome kids in your life.