Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Building Blocks of Behavior

Yesterday, I was at the doctor with Zeli. We waited for quite a long time, and he was definitely getting restless. He started building with the blocks that they had in the waiting room (yes, I envisioned that they were filled with the germs of thousands of other sick kids…but what is a mom to do...) and he was having a great time. Now, building with blocks also meant crashing with blocks, and he was continually asking me to look, watching the blocks fall to the ground and starting to put them up again.



I started to worry that maybe he was making too much noise and I looked around at the other parents and kids in the room. None of the other children were making a peep – not a peep! And I quickly saw why – they were all playing on their parents’ phones.

I was going to tell Zeli that he needed to be quieter and sit down next to me, but then I realized that we were in a pediatric waiting room. And that kids are supposed to make noise and play and …well…be kids. 

And just because all of the other parents were choosing to get their kids to tune out with electronic devices didn’t mean that I had to do so as well. This is not to say that electronic devices can’t do wonders to keep kids interested, but it is to say that it’s also OK not to offer a child such a device, and that it’s OK for kids to be kids. And to make some noise. And to show some energy.

As I watched Zeli play, in contrast to all of the other kids, I was taken back 12 years to the first play group that Matan attended. I signed him up for some group at a community center (where there was also a basketball court). And while all of the other children sat in a circle and did exactly what the teacher asked of them, Matan ran from the room to watch the basketball game. Then he zipped back into the play room to play with some sparkling thing; and then he zipped out to check out the water fountain; and then he zipped back in...you get the picture. I spent the entire hour horrified, watching my child be the only one out – the only one that wasn’t following the rules.

Matan coined the term as my first rambunctious handfull


I called my father-in-law, the pediatrician, after that day and asked him if there was something wrong with Matan (yes, he was my first). And my father-in-law laughed. “What’s wrong with all of the other kids who just sat there and followed the rules!?” he wanted to know.

And I’ve loved that answer ever since. We aren’t all cookie cutter replicas of each other, and our kids don’t always want to be quiet. Now obviously there is a time and place for everything, and no one appreciates a screaming kid who is throwing pretzel packs at other passengers on the plane (yep, true story); but making a bit of noise while building blocks at the doctor’s office rather than zoning out on a phone? That one is AOK in my book.

2 comments:

  1. What a great message Romi! Also, I'm totally blanking but what was your dogs name?

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  2. Hah! Why am I so particularly fond of the Pretzel Pack Bomber? Oh, yes. Always fond of the Bill the Cat guys... They grow up well, in the end, if their parents know the clutch-and-brake system of parenting. Clearly, the Sussmans know when to hold 'em, and know when to fold 'em. :-) I so look forward to meeting the men you will raise!

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