I've heard it written that obsessive, perfectionist children are powerful children. Last night, after the girls were in bed and Dr. Gooch had, in his words, passed out on the couch, I sat with my son. We were at the kitchen table. I flipped through his photo album. The one to which I've been adding since the beginning of Seth's time. As I turned the pages, Seth picked the pictures he wanted to include in his poster. You see, next week, he will be "King of the Jungle" in Ms. Creech's class. Among the privileges granted to the King is the presentation of a poster of his life. He insisted the pictures pictured on his poster NOT be silly. Because, of course, all the previous "Kings" have included the silliest photos to be displayed. Not Seth. He won't stand for any giggling at snapshots from his life. So he chose depictions of himself content in his mothers arms as a baby, perched with distant-eyed looks on his fathers back, or seated pensively stacking crayons, blocks and Lincoln logs. We left out all the bathtime sud-soaked nudey shots and the goofy googly-eyed portraits. There were a few chosen where a smile had broken through--but only in the most dignified of poses. My favorite is the one where his face isn't even showing. In that one, he is bent down over his little blond sister, arms wrapped around her two-foot frame in an embrace.
As we finished choosing the photos, I squeezed my decidedly serious son and sent him off to bed. Then with a bit of writer's remorse and a repentant pen I recalled this post from a week ago.
Seth is a powerful and private child. Serious and smart. Wary of the world around him and intent on understanding it. Like one commenter offered, the world needs serious people, too. The world needs my Seth and my Seth needs to be understood. Not laughed at as silly cajoling Kindergartners are prone to do (or silly cajoling parents), but understood. He is sincere and sweet. Not one for the limelight, but a one-on-one one.
And if seriousness is inherited, it would certainly be a maternal gene in our family--so I will understand him best. I will stop complaining of the challenge of rearing such a son. I will compassionately steer him away from his "natural man" and with that empathy, provide instructions on the path from self-centered to selfless. It's what I signed up for, by starting his earthly life.
It's a journey on which all of us have and should embark.