Right after my twins were born, J, then 3, started driving me crazy. He’d ask for a certain activity. I’d manage to free myself from the other two to get him set up, help him get started, and then walk away. Almost inevitably, after a couple minutes he would lose interest and wander away, looking for something else to do.
I was confused. This kid had great focus and had never had trouble before staying on task. What was different?
After a few weeks of pulling my hair out, I realized that what he was asking for, what he was unable to verbalize at that point, is that he wanted attention. Togetherness. And he was choosing activities we’d done together in the past in the hopes that we could connect again.
Once I realized what he was doing, it broke my heart a bit, but it also gave me a glimpse into how his mind works. He tends to state needs rather than ask for help. (We’ve been working on this). He tends to speak in declarative statements rather than asking questions.
Right now, his major interests are math & the periodic table, and I wonder – is it because that’s what he truly likes, or is it because we take the time to engage with him on those topics when he brings them up?
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with choosing to or even naturally tending towards certain topics. Many families bond over common interests – from sports teams to TV shows to political ideologies. But I want to be sensitive to the fact that we need to be open to encouraging interests, even if they’re not in our comfort zones.
What does that look like? Still figuring it out.