Monthly Archives: June 2008

A Five Year Old Hero

Quite often, as we go about our everyday lives, we tend to overlook a lot and take things for granted. As the busy parents of children, we get wrapped up in the thousands of details that make up this thing called Life — and it’s easy to forget that our children have different perspectives. Yet taking a moment to look at things through their eyes can give us an entirely new perspective.

Take my five year old son, Sammy. He’s pretty typical: he likes his scooter, spends too much time in front of his Playstation (OK, it *WAS* mom’s Playstation at one point…), fusses when Mom gives him a meal that he doesn’t like (pretty much anything except macaroni and cheese), plays with his friends, is learning how to read, is conversant in three languages (English, German, and Polish… OK, maybe that last one isn’t typical, but it’s essential for him). In other words, from my perspective, he’s (thankfully) pretty normal (and special, of course).

Yesterday was a pleasantly warm day here, and as we were returning home in our car (which does not have air conditioning), Sammy’s little sister, lulled by the warm sun and warm air in the car, fell asleep in her car seat. Nothing unusual there. Once we got home, I unbuckled her from the car seat and carried her upstairs to put her in bed for the rest of her nap.

I’ve been working a mid shift and have an alarm clock set for 4:30 PM to make sure that I’m not late for work. As Sammy and I sat downstairs, trying to figure out the newest addition to his collection of Playstation games, the alarm clock went off.

And then we heard a sustained cry from Olivia’s room that was actually more of a shriek. For some reason, the alarm clock woke her up, and since she doesn’t like loud noises, she showed her displeasure and concern about this sudden noise that disturbed her sleep.

I ran upstairs to comfort her, followed by Sammy (that’s another thing he does pretty well; he looks after his little sister). I immediately asked Sammy to go to the other bedroom and turn off the alarm clock, which he did (side note: when children want to learn something, teach them. You never know when it’s going to come in handy).

Upon his return, Olivia said, “Clock loud. Sammy turn off clock!” But she didn’t just say it once; she kept on saying it all evening. And again today. All day today.

In other words, Sammy’s simple action made an impression on her. Sammy is her hero who saved her from the noise of the big, bad clock.

Olivia was upset. Sammy, her protector, took care of her. And forget the fact that Dad was the first on the scene — Sammy, not daddy, was the hero of the day.

It truly is amazing that children — who have not been on this planet for very long — are capable of learning fast and doing so much. Do take the time to teach your children the little things. Let them help. Encourage them to watch out for each other (and yes, Olivia does like to “lecture” Sammy when she thinks that he’s doing something he should not be doing!). While I can’t tell you exactly how the future will play out, I’m pretty confident that Sammy and Olivia will have a good, strong relationship for a long time to come. I’m glad that they chose to start working on it early in life.

Yes, Sammy, I love the way you take care of your little sister. You’re my hero, too!

Spiderman better watch out…

–Tom

Determination, Toddler Style

Like most German neighborhoods, there’s a playground not too far from our house. To get there, you have to walk down a hill with a very gradual downslope for about 200 yards / meters. No big deal, right?

Unless you’re barely two years old and are riding one of those “walking trikes”.

By a “walking trike”, I mean a tricycle that has no pedals. You make it go by using your feet. That’s currently one of Olivia’s favorite toys, and as usual, she wanted to take it with her to the playground yesterday. She also wanted to ride it the whole way.

All was well until we got to the hill. What is a gentle slope for us becomes a challenge for a two year old on a walking trike! Sure enough, she got going too fast, rolled to the left, fell off the trike — and the trike landed on her. She wasn’t hurt, thankfully, but it did scare her.

All of this happened in an instant, and all I could do was react. I bent down, picked her up, and braced my ear for the expected scream. Sure enough, it came — but as soon as I started to comfort her, she suddenly said:

“I’m OK. I want down!”

And she said that between screams! Yes, this little toddler was DETERMINED to get back on that walking trike and finish the trip — and that’s exactly what she did.

Where did she get that? For sure, her mother and I are not quitters, but that’s really uncommon in somebody her age. Sure, she can be stubborn — what two year old isn’t at times? — but that’s not her nature. Perhaps she gets some of it from her older brother?

At any rate, I’m glad to see that quality in my “baby” (she told me yesterday that I can still call her that). And sometimes there’s a lot we adults can learn from a determined toddler!

–Tom