I am resigned to my fate. After years of firsthand empirical research, the data is conclusive. The entire Nature vs. Nurture debate is a crock- for the most part, I say.
For example, is it normal to have to strap a 2, 3 and 5 year old down in their car seats 30 minutes prior to the EDT for any activity? When I take my children to any planned or unplanned outing, I have to keep them “restrained” in the car- all set up with a sweet deal- favorite movie playing on the DVD player, a/c kickin´, snacks in abundance, toys, coloring books, etc.
Only then do I actually begin my preparations. I have a whole routine- not quite sure how legal it is, but it works for me and I am all about surviving! With my front door slightly open allowing me to "keep an eye on the clueless tots in the car," (I say clueless because they are so comfortable, they don´t even realize that the car is not moving!) I go about my business harriedly.
Like the maniac I am, I begin by finally gulping down my forgotten 20 ounce coffee and then briskly move like a ninja from room to room gathering changes of clothes, diapers, wipes, sweaters, my homemade “first aid kit,” cameras, snacks, drinks, tissues, etc. Depending on the designated excursion, I will pack whatever else is necessary to enable us to stay out for as long as possible (to justify all the prep-time,) without running out of any of our valuable resources.
It is literally impossible for me, considering the active nature of my children, to accomplish anything productive while simultaneously overseeing their behavior, unless I have them confined and unable to free themselves.
I have considered investing in a few straight jackets, in order to be able to supervise them within the house while organizing, but again, not quite sure of the legality of it all.
The other day we attended an older sibling’s school play.
My 2 and 3 year olds, who are home with me all day came along. We proceeded to take a seat at one of the cafeteria tables. In a flash, my two toddlers were lounging on top of me, (and the annoyed neighbors next to them,) fully sprawled out as if they were chillin´ on their own living room couch. Within seconds they initiated the kind of rough play often seen amongst lion or tiger cubs on Animal Planet or the Discovery Channel. Before I could gain control of the situation, they were rolling on the floor, tickling one another, hugging, wrestling and laughing hysterically. It was cute, but not quite appropriate and the scornful glances I received from disappointed onlookers said it all.
At that point, we relocated to the very back of the cafeteria where the kids could stand freely without blocking or disturbing anybody. From this vantage point I was able to observe the entire scene and all the respective interactions between parents and the accompanying younger siblings.
I was in awe at how well-behaved the other toddlers seemed to be; serene, focused on the performance and exhibiting tremendous self-control. I thought that they must either be hypnotized, drugged or had been threatened with their lives prior to entry.
Why weren’t my children still and calm? Before leaving the house, I coached them, I bribed them with prizes, and I blackmailed them with their most coveted toys. I even warned them about police arrest before we arrived on the scene. (I know, I know it is wrong to make the "policeman" always the bad guy, but "desperate times call for desperate measures" and I am sure they won´t be scared for life as a result, so RELAX!
At that very moment, I sought to comfort my batty mind and silently reiterated an old Chinese proverb I know that translates to, “The more active the child, the healthier the child.” If that is true, then my kids are the epitome of good health. Unfortunately, I can no longer give credence to a proverb stemming from a society where most families consist of one child. Now I need something else to add to my repertoire of self-talk when in need.
The truth is that all my children are good natured and sharp-minded. So far nobody has been diagnosed with ADHD as their accelerated nature does not interfere negatively with their social or academic endeavors. Nevertheless, I have come to the realization that it must be genetic. I was an “active” child and so was my husband. Now, as adults we have learned to channel and transform our "abundance of energy" into positive actions.
If there are any other parents out there, who are also stunned by "other people’s children´s" ability to sit still, there is hope for us so we should not lose our minds. Re-directing a child’s excess of energy and enthusiasm into something constructive and developmentally productive is the key- be it sports, music, academic pursuits or any other interest a child may have.
Perhaps such rigorous and daily training is the key to learning discipline and, who knows? After years of hard core "positive energy channeling," he may earn himself a "free ride" to college! Now wouldn´t that make it all worth it?