When my youngest son was small, around the age of four, his questions about everything kicked in to high gear. Having already lived through a precarious question-stage with his older brother, I thought I was prepared. I was not. The difference was he noticed the smallest, tiniest details that his older brother blustered past. He noticed if I changed anything from an object in a room to a variance in his daily routine.
I remember when he was still small enough to sit up on our sink. My hope was that he would sit there quietly. This would put him up high enough that I could easily access his mouth with a toothbrush. It always went awry. First, he would want to look at the toothpaste, then he would turn on the faucets fascinated that one ran hot, the other cold. After that he’d find a cup and ask about the cartoon character depicted on it which led into a lengthy inquiry about the origin of the character. This brought him to wondering whether I liked the character and if he could meet the character someday. By this time, I was ready to throw in the towel and forget about his teeth entirely.
Children who notice detail are perceptive. Taken to the extreme, it can become a hurdle for both the parent and child to overcome. Describing the child who is extremely perceptive in Mary Kurcinka’s book, ‘Raising Your Spirited Child’, goes something like this:
“It can take ten minutes to get them from the house to the car. They notice everything–the latest oil spill, the white feather in the bird’s nest, and the dew on the spider web. They are often accused of not listening.”
Even at the ripe old age of eight, my youngest is legendary for his questions. He gets so focused on what is in front of him, that I often find that I have to repeat myself several times to him. It is hard to be patient. Not only am I repeating myself endlessly, but I’m having to answer repetitive and often obvious questions.
The upside is this. He is a bright kid who has a lot of interest in how things work. He can put Legos together in the blink of an eye. He sometimes asks me meaningful questions which I find touching (although he rarely pays attention to the answer). Hands down, he is an extremely intriguing kid who just happens to be the ‘Boy of a Million Questions’.
As parents, it’s our ‘job’ to learn the most we can about how our kids operate. The more we learn about who they are, the easier it is to find patience and compassion for them when they seem to be out of sync with us. The only question we ever need to ask is this, “Is my kid being authentic to who they are?” If the answer is ‘yes’, we must learn to let them be, questions and all.
Written by Diana DeVaul, MSW and Parent
Kurcinka, M.S. Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child is More Intense-Sensitive-Perceptive-Persistent-Energetic (Revised Edition). 2006 New York, New York. HarpersCollins Publishers Inc.