Monday, December 23, 2013

Seth: Work Hard; Play Hard. No Middle Ground

We know about our Seth that he is a very intense boy.  He might be a little on the small side physically, but don't let that fool you.  This is one strong kid and a kid who can be utterly focused on the task at hand:  Whether it be wrestling with his brother; or playing out on the soccer field; or working with a parent to accomplish some task.

Then, when you add a huge level of holiday-related excitement to the equation, just step back and watch this kid go.  (See yesterday's post for more details!)  It can be very difficult to find an appropriate outlet for all of this child's energy and intensity, and sometimes hard to find enough patience to be able to manage him.  He's also too young to know himself well enough to understand that he needs to balance things in his life - so it's our job to help with this by pacing him, giving him down time, finding things for him to engage in, having him close to us, and helping him rest in relationship to us.

This weekend, I decided to put a bunch of big loads through the washer and drier - so that I wouldn't have (much) laundry to do over the next week.  Given Seth's excitement level about Christmas and the incredible store of energy that even he didn't know what to do with (other than crash into walls), we decided to merge the two things:  Laundry; and excess energy.  We told Seth that if he wanted to help with laundry or with other chores around the house to help get ready for Christmas, he could work to give him some focus for his energy.  We made it completely voluntary.  Usually the kids are just asked to help load their own laundry into the machine and then help fold their own clothes and put them away.

Well, of the seven large loads that I ran through the laundry room on the weekend, Seth folded six of them!  By himself!!  And he was upset that I folded the seventh load!  Six whole, large loads.  In fact, for each load, after Geoff or I put the soap into the washer, Seth took care of the rest:  Loading the washer; transferring clothes to the drier (lying on top of the drier to reach down into the washer to pull clothes out - adorable); emptying the drier; folding the clothes or hanging them on hangers; stacking them in baskets; taking the clothes to the room where they belonged!  Unbelievable!  He was like a little watchdog, waiting for loads to be done and transferred to the next place they needed to go and jumping on every task with pretty impressive efficiency for an 8-year-old.  Amazing.

Oh, and he also emptied the dishwasher twice, swept out the kitchen and wiped the table down, lugged bags of stuff to the car that's destined for Goodwill, tidied the family and sun rooms, and wiped down the kids' bathroom.  All without being asked!!  He was genuinely a big help.

And he kept begging for more work to do!!  I had to remind him repeatedly to take a break and go play for a while (something that usually needs no reminder!) and numerous times I just pulled him onto my lap so that he could relax for a bit.

It's really quite astonishing to see this kid work when he has a goal in mind and (lots and lots of) excess energy to burn.  He is astonishingly goal oriented for a young boy...and competitive in his approach to accomplishing them, even with himself!  I think that he actually believes that, just maybe, if he gets every chore done around here singlehandedly, Christmas will simply arrive...even if ahead of schedule.

There's no doubt in my mind that, if we can just keep him alive and safe and help him learn to manage his intensity and energy levels and eventually teach him how to read, Seth is going to be just fine, unleashed, as an adult.  Watch out world, about ten years from now!

Although so young and needy and emotionally immature in some ways, this is also a child who, on the other hand, knows how to function.  He will be able to take care of himself and of those around him with gusto and endless commitment and unflagging energy.  He's a very unique combination of observational skills (so he sees what needs doing and watches to see how it gets taken care of and then learns how to do it for himself), energy, intensity, and commitment to family (he continually demonstrates a willingness to pitch in and get things done for the benefit of his family and he simply assumes that this is the way it should be).

Seth is slow to truly and deeply take people into his heart but once you're in there, there's nothing he wouldn't do for you.  He's such an old soul in this way.  My Mom is beginning to experience this.  She has worked diligently for the past 2.5 years to engage this little man in real relationship and it has paid off.  There are very few people (especially of the female persuasion) who are allowed to touch and hug Seth freely, and Grandma is one of the select few now.  They have conversations and he talks to her and leans against her - and the lean is one of the most significant things in Seth's subconscious world.  And accordingly, he would do anything for his Grandma, I know it.

I said to Geoff last night that Seth is also going to make one incredible husband some day - with the way he is willing to work hard, with his commitment to family and people that he loves, with his love for God, all combined with his being great with, any woman'll be incredibly blessed to get this guy!

There was really only one downside to all of Seth's frenetic commitment to getting jobs done on the weekend.  Matthew came to Geoff and me yesterday afternoon and said that he was getting really annoyed about Seth doing so much work and so little playing.  It was hard to know how to respond to that one!  But then he added the final shot, in a burst of self-reflection and honesty:  "Besides," he said, "all of Seth's work is making me look bad!"

I could relate.  Heck...Seth's work is making all of us look bad!


  1. What a fantastic post. We have often seen Xavier work very hard but have noticed that he prefers outside chores to inside chores. When he was just short of 3 years old he helped shovel gravel for our driveway and carried many, many metal braces for our deck.

    1. Thanks Eileen...lovely feedback! And I remember you telling me about Xavier's amazing outside work when he was just a wee little thing...that was just amazing! I find it fascinating to learn more about our kids' tendencies and motivations...when we can capture the spirit of these things, it's so much easier to work with them...and teach them.

      Hugs, and blessings on your Christmas Eileen!