The “Look at Me” Kid

There are days where I feel like I am living with this person:

We are in full-on, “look what I can do!” mode every waking hour in our house. My 4-year-old is a people person. Which is about as much of an understatement as saying “I like beer” or “I root for the Baltimore Orioles.” My son’s passion and zest for life and showing off all he knows and can accomplish is affirming and engaging and, oftentimes, infectious. He is the kid who everyone at our church can identify by name. He is the kid who all the teachers and students at his school know by voice. He is the kid who cheerfully says, “Hello!” to the workingmen and women of our community as if he were running for political office.

I love that about him. And if I am to be honest — and if you can’t be honest in your own blog, than where can you be honest?– I think/fear that he inherited that personality from his old man. I remember, vaguely, holding people captive at an early age to obsessively describe in agonizing detail each moment of the previous day’s Orioles game or a movie or television show that I had recently watched.

And when I think about my cute to some, annoying to others behavior, I cringe and want to buy ad space on a billboard in my hometown apologizing to everyone I bothered.

So, is karma paying me back with a child who exhibits the same outgoing behavior? Maybe. Or maybe he’s just that engaging child who walks up to strangers and complements them on their hair or clothes or smile.

Our next dilemma as parents is how to address this behavior. At church, he is the child who obsessively answers every question posed by the pastor during the children’s moment. In our neighborhood, he is the child who talks to EVERY SINGLE PERSON WE SEE and shows off all of his latest tricks. At the mall, he is the child who sparks a conversation with a total stranger. We tell him repeatedly that not everyone is his friend nor does everyone want to talk to him. Some people, we gently inform him, prefer not to be bothered. Unthinkable, I’m certain is his response.

At the same time, we don’t want to destroy his broad sense of self and confidence. We don’t want to scare him into a retreating, inward self by alarming him with talk of the dangers of people in the world. At this point in his young life, our son craves attention. We embrace that and try to gently guide him into positive situations where his behavior will be accepted.

So far, we’ve yet to discover the fine line of how much is too much and how much is not enough. That seems like a balance every parent is trying to manage on almost every facet of our children’s lives. We want him to be himself. We also want him to develop an understanding of what behavior is acceptable at what times and with whom.

We have a few options:

Embrace his “Inner Stuart.” Our son is a bit of a show-off. As parents, we have to accept that and allow him — at 4-years-old — to be who he is.

Look for times that we can explain to him about how to act. There are always teachable moments. A friend told me once that these moments are best coming parents because the world won’t be so gentle when teaching these painful lessons. If we begin the conversations at an early age maybe we can lay the foundation for fewer painful moments in his future.

Help him to continue feeling positive about himself while realizing that he doesn’t always need to be center stage. Every parent wants their child to have self-esteem. It has served me well in my life, sheltering me during moments when I was picked on or felt left out. It also helped me to enjoy being alone, realizing that an audience of one — myself — was really all that I needed to feel good about me.

(PHOTO COURTEST: YOUTUBE)

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The Beginning
About Happiest Daddy

Two boys, one wife and a ton of material. I live for family and I'm one of the most blessed people you will ever meet.

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