You know … you really have to watch your assumptions when you’re a parent. With this opening line, I could go anywhere, couldn’t I? But I shall try to tie this in.
Super Tall Guy is an extraordinarily shy guy. At least he seems to be. At least that is my assumption about him…built on a vast number of facts such as hiding behind my body on too many occasions to count, refusing to speak to someone that I am conversing with, and many other examples. However, every once in awhile, he isn’t shy and I am generally taken aback and don’t know how to respond.
This weekend we had a sunny and warm Saturday morning (wow – mid November!) and so we strolled along the zoo enjoying the quiet of the morning. We eventually stumbled into the Polar Bears’ Birthday Party (who knew that Koda and Kobe are 8 and 11 years old….but I can’t remember which is which). All the crafts and activities and yet Super Tall Guy was Super bored until Radio Disney said they were going to have a hulu-hoop contest. He raised his hand and bounced “pick me, pick me.” I stood awestruck and watched him go forward. He easily won the first round – probably since the Little Guy was one of the 2 opponents, and then he went head-to-head against a very graceful school-aged girl. He was quite disappointed to lose. I was quite shocked to watch him compete. It was touching on the way home when he mumbled in the back of the van, “I was sad not to win the hulu hoop.” I still shook my head in disbelief and said, “I’m proud of you for getting up there.” Where does this come from?
I was just as shocked last month as we started to leave the great party welcoming the Big Yellow Rubber Duck to Pittsburgh. As we attempted to skirt past throngs of people, we were approached by a man with a microphone near a canopy tent. He asked if we’d like to participate in his documentary. I laughed and began to move on when Super Tall Guy said “yes” and stopped. I paused and said to myself, “we’ll just see if this actually works!” So he asked what the rubber duck means to us and Super Tall Guy smiled, pulled me down to his height and whispered in my ear. I repeated his words and moved on thinking “well, that’s on the editing room floor!” So – check it out (warning…we’re at the end….but it really is an interesting short piece.)
My other big really bad, definitely more significant mistaken assumption over the past couple weeks was related to Super Tall Guy’s first grade homework. For the month of October, they were expected to memorize Psalm 100. It’s a long one and I didn’t really understand it as homework and really thought that STG wouldn’t be interested in memorizing and wouldn’t have the brain-power to do so. Hence, I never reviewed the verse with him at home. Tuesday, the 30th, he lay in bed before falling asleep and recited the whole thing. I pounced on him with joy. He said “do that again,” and I body-slammed him again! (apparently this is the kind of praise that he likes). I confessed my apathy to his teacher the next day at the conveniently scheduled parent-teacher conferences and I promised in my head that I would never underestimate him again (until I do) and would do better at working with him on homework (until I don’t).
But reflecting on these few examples tonight makes me realize how I shape his experiences based on my assumptions of what he will and will not like. I love that he surprises me, but I hope that I’m not denying him some really fun and rich experiences based on my own judgment call. More importantly, I need to be wary of not challenging him to his fullest potential, but to expect the world of him …. and body-slam him whenever he proves me wrong.