Early Hints of Personality
February 17, 2017
A few days before our son’s birthday, my wife and I stayed up late looking at old pictures and videos of our little guy. I showed her a video I had made when he and I took a trip to the zoo during some father / son bonding time. As a one-and-a-half year toddler, he was fascinated watching a couple of older kids playing the drums. He stood nearby completely memorized until they finished and had walked away. He took a quick look at the drums before deciding to walk away into some nearby plants. I asked him if he wanted to try them out and he gave a slight head shake.
I decided to press the matter by tapping the drums a few times myself to see if I could make them interesting enough for him to come and try playing them himself. My plan worked perfectly. He came back and tried out the drums. I did it. Great Dad moment, right???…
Except now that he’s older, I’ve come to learn quite a bit more about our little kiddo’s personality, and re-watching the video several months later, I caught something I hadn’t caught before. I’ve seen this behavior before. More specifically, I’ve seen this behavior in him before.
I’ll never forget the time we went to Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii. One of the rangers had given him a coloring book and crayons with the promise of a special Junior Park Ranger badge if he made an effort to color at least one of the pictures. We took him into an auditorium where an information video was shown about the park. We hoped that with the video and the coloring book there, he would stay close by us and color in some of the pictures. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The little guy never went anyway near the coloring book, instead choosing to run around and explore the entire auditorium. He climbed up chairs, across chairs, up onto the stage, and ran up and down the aisle. Finally, my wife managed to wrangle him back to his seat and we attempted once more to entice him with the coloring book. “All you have to do is make an effort and you’ll get yourself a Junior Park Ranger badge.” He picks up one of the crayons and proceeds to make a single short mark on the paper, puts the crayon down, and runs back up the aisle.
He got a badge, sure, but he never really cared about getting one in the first place. Nor did he care about that coloring book. He cared about one thing and that was exploring that unusual room. And there was only one way to do that… by appeasing his parents.
At the zoo, it was appeasing his Dad so he could get back to what he really wanted to do, which was exploring the plants behind the drums. I watch that video now and count five total taps that he made on the drum. Five. He wasn’t even looking at the drums when he did it; he was essentially staring off. After the five taps, he stood for a second or two continuing to stare off in the distance, then abruptly turned around and walked back off into the plants he wanted to explore. I can’t believe I didn’t catch it at the time. This kid is smart. He already knew that sometimes you have to give into people, that you have to pick your battles, and that sometimes you have to evaluate the scenario and then decide it’s far easier to appease than it is to protest.
He continues to amaze me every day with how much he knows and understands about what’s going on around him. He is sharp, energetic, fun-loving, happy in general, cautious but daring individual, and just the all-around coolest kid I have every had the pleasure of knowing. I can’t wait for him to be a big brother and for all of us to meet his little brother and to see all the ways he’s similar and how he’s completely different.