Day 111: Il tempo gigante

Think of creative yet honest ways of relating to others.

My oldest son had one of his fast days today. His über-energetic days. He couldn’t stop moving, he couldn’t stop talking, he couldn’t resist teasing his brother, and all the time he wanted more attention than he got. His words came out too quick for his mouth, his speech became a blur — in addition to his problems of pronouncing S and similar sounds, it became rather unintelligible.

We went swimming to make him use some energy, two hours of non-stop jumping and diving and swimming. When he got home, he was still fidgeting, touching everything within reach, still talking too fast, still too loud, too noisy.

Then we made him go to bed for a short siesta, made him promise to close his eyes for ten minutes, even though he said he wasn’t tired — and he slept for two hours.

Sometimes he seems to be unable to listen when he has a fast day. Sometimes I tell him twenty times to stop teasing his brother, or playing drums on the cheese, or doing karate against some imaginary super villain. Sometimes, I resort to holding him, giving him a hug just to stop him and calm him down. It’s frustrating, and also confusing, he is a bright child and usually very reasonable — and yet I have to drag him away from his brother or from kicking a chair or hitting the air.

Sometimes, he really gets on my nerves. Can’t he just listen? He listens to Harry Potter (in English!) for hours, he listens to my lectures about science for as long as I have anything smart to say — and yet he can’t listen to me when I ask him, beg him, to stop being so fidgety?

Stop, stop, calm down, please!

I think it’s my fault. I react to his fidgeting by trying to calm him down, when I should have done the opposite. You can’t stop a lion from walking back and forth in his cage by giving him a smaller cage. So I have decided to do the opposite: when he has one of his fast days, I’ll give him more to play with, more input, more feedback, more presence. I’ll be there for him more, and I’ll try to channel his fire rather than quench it.

It can be surprisingly frustrating, for every question I manage to answer, or every thought I’m able to digest, he has three others in the wings. And I never thought I’d say this, as a child I promised myself never to say this, but it would be a good thing to reduce the number of whys in my life. Every other sentence from my son contains a why, and it’s slowly getting on my nerves.

But I only get frustrated if I allow myself to become frustrated. And if it’s my fault, if my reaction only makes him more über-energetic, then I have no choice but to fix that.

I’ll have to be creative in order to find ways of channeling his energy, but I’ll manage.

And if not, I’m sure he would like to help me. He is more creative than me, after all.

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