Monday, November 18, 2013

Delay of Game

It’s as if overnight our sweet, compliant child has decided that he is a card-carrying adult member of our household. He takes this new status seriously, letting us know his opinion on everything, from what we eat, watch or read to where we go, and he even chimes in on directions while we are on the way.

It amazes me how much this little guy notices at the young age of 2 ½. A couple of weeks ago, on our usual route to school, I had to make a quick stop to drive through a restaurant. This caused me to turn left instead of right leaving our neighborhood. As soon as the car started to turn left, I hear from the back seat, “Don’t go that way, Daddy.” It was funny at first, but about 10 minutes later, as I was still trying to explain to him that I did in fact know exactly what I was doing, it had passed from being cute to just annoying.

As Elliot fiercely tries to show us his independence, he now insists on putting on his own clothes and shoes (or at least attempting to), getting in his car seat by himself and on occasion ordering his own meals at restaurant. Last week he was shocked to learn that Chuy’s doesn’t serve donuts.

While this is an integral part of his developmental process, I think it is just as much a part of the process for me. I am the type of person who is always in a hurry, usually for no good reason. My coworkers chide me for walking too fast through Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas on our way to meetings. I have to make a conscious effort to talk slowly, force myself to stop and read emails before I send them full of typos that are driven by the speed at which they were written. I even time my commutes home, trying to find a little extra edge in how the lights are sequenced or figuring out if there is a lane that consistently moves faster.

Knowing that about me, it’s hard to adequately explain how it makes me feel when Elliot is cautiously pulling himself up into the car, standing on the floor to look around, slowly climbing onto the seat while stopping to adjust the rear air control knobs (because he thinks they actually do something) and then, if I am lucky, finally coming to rest in his seat, where he insists on buckling his own belts and slaps at my hand if I try to help.

I’ve found myself constantly getting frustrated with him, and that makes me feel terrible. I should be happy that he has reached a point in his development where he wants to do things, and I should be more than happy to let him learn as he goes.

There are a lot of very clichéd things written about “living in the moment,” and there is no way I am about to quote any of those. Instead I will say that as my son learns more and more about being independent and how the world works around him, I am going to make the effort to let it happen without blowing a whistle and penalizing him five yards for delay of game.

Jordan Echols is a Communication and Image Zone Manager with Texas Health Resources and Dad to opinionated 2-and-a-half-year-old Elliot.

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