My Favorite Martian
My son was born with a cool little collection of birthmarks on the side of his ribcage. Their configuration somewhat resembles a constellation. When he first started making sounds, his little baby cooing sounds were unusual. They were heavy in consonants, mostly ones that are found near the end of the alphabet. He would say: “Qui…Quay…Quiah…Zeek…Zurb.” He made sounds like that, over and over again, as he would look at my husband and I as though he were speaking directly to us. We started to jokingly wonder if he was speaking in his native language. We speculated as to whether his collection of birthmarks was a map back to his home planet.
My son’s behavior has only gotten stranger over the years. It is not because he is abnormal by any stretch of the imagination. He is a typical boy, one hundred percent, which is sort of like an alien. I didn’t have any siblings, and until I had my son, I had never spent much time around little baby boys. He is ten now and maturing, and all throughout his development his behavior has absolutely blown my mind. He is hilarious…a wandering little sponge of a human being.
It is extremely difficult to get my son’s attention. I remember that for a brief period, when he was younger, I was really concerned about it. I thought that maybe it was a sign that he was disengaged with us, that he didn’t care what we had to say when we spoke, or that he was too lazy to pay attention. I finally learned that none of those things come close to the reason that it is difficult to get through to him. The reason that he can be so hard to reach is because he becomes so intensely focused on whatever has captured his attention at that particular moment. The kid has a million different things going on in his mind, and he has to work pretty hard to pull himself out of it and pay attention to the world outside.
He has a need to touch everything. As we walk down the aisles in the grocery store he trails his fingers over every item. When he finishes using something, or gets distracted he just drops it where he stands, and leaves it where it falls, no thought of putting it away even in consideration. My son always has a Lego, or something plastic, in his mouth. I dutifully remind him to spit them out all day long. When he was younger I often caught him biting is own toenails, though I believe that we have finally broken him of that habit. He needs abundant outlets for physical and mental activity, his mind and body seek to constantly be in a state of discovery. My son is exploring his new planet.
So even though, to me his behavior seems completely alien. What I have learned is that he is just completely boy. Boys are certainly interesting little creatures. I think that they are unfortunately often misunderstood. Strong parenting skills are required to raise little boys into men. We constantly have to apply discipline and structure to our son’s life and we need to be diligent not to let the little things slip through the cracks. My husband and I work hard to parent our son from another planet. I’m exhausted just explaining it, and that's ironic, because boys get easier as they grow and well girls…I am totally in for it.
I have a simple favorite quote about boys. It pretty much sums them up:
Boy: A noise with Dirt on it.
I think that if we can accept that reality, and live through all of the cleaning up after them, as parents, we can get along with our sons pretty well. We get to enjoy watching them grow, and discovering our world. If we pay really close attention, we even get to learn from them along the way.