My 6-year-old son has to make sure all of the stuffed animals at the foot of his bed are laying face-down before he can go to sleep. Some people believe that this may be a sign of some sort of mental dysfunction. I think it’s kind of cute.
A lot of diagnosis has been done on the poor kid by the adults in his life. Each time I speak with a medical professional, teacher or daycare provider about him I’m compelled to run Internet searches on illnesses I can’t spell, pronounce or even conceive. When I try to sell my own theory that he is simply “spirited” nobody seems convinced.
Whatever his ailment, adults seem to be either endeared to him or extremely annoyed by him. It’s the latter I have trouble accepting. Not that I don’t understand that he can certainly push buttons with his incessant talk about video games or television programs, his constant need to be first in line, or his fits of anger that can trigger an otherwise reasonable adult to go completely insane. Trust me, I know how this can happen. It’s just that you would think adults would be better actors.
A swim instructor who sighs when she realizes he’s in her class. A day care worker who rolls her eyes when she sees him walk through the door. A family member who likes to describe him as “weird”. Many people can’t even say his name without an echo. It’s repeated three times in a downward fashion and is usually accompanied by a shake of the head. Jack-Jack-Jack.
It doesn’t phase him one bit, yet. But I’m afraid for when it finally does sink in. There’s even a part of me that secretly hopes whatever his ailment is will protect him from noticing the behavior of these few adults in his life.
He’s only 6 years old. I believe he has plenty of time for us to figure out what type of help he needs – if any. Some day he will learn how to turn his quirks into more-socially acceptable traits prompting those adults who shake their head at him now to recant, “Boy, he really turned out alright.”
They just don’t see it yet.
I see it. I see his fits of anger as a response to his perceived injustice. I see his need to be first as a sign of leadership. And I see his constant chatter about the things that he loves so much as passion. He has all the right tools to be a pillar of society. It’s just a little misdirected right now.
No matter how challenging a day we might have, I know how it will end. I’ll help him place his stuffed animals face-down on his bed and he will give me one of those bone-crushing bear hugs goodnight. As I kiss him on the forehead I will remind myself:
“I believe my son is going to turn out just fine.”
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