Has anyone ever studied the paradox that exists in the parallel between the God-like amount of energy and the potential for complete laziness of a toddler? I swear, somewhere in there you will unlock the secrets of the universe. I know the word “lazy” can be seen as a rather ugly label. It brings to mind people not wanting to work for the bare minimum or any other number of old ideas washed into our brains. I, myself, am quite a lazy person. That doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t DO what I need to do, it just means that I like to get the desired results with the least amount of effort. When presented with it in that way, who among us is NOT at least a little lazy?
Jack moves like he’s immortal. He doesn’t fear climbing over rocks studded with craggy tree roots. He is completely happy to, every now and then, shrug off the concept of gravity at the top of the stairs. His world consists of the endless joys of exploration, regardless of the skinned knees and bruised cheeks that may come with it. This is coupled with his lack of want to bend at the knees so that he can pull his pants down over his butt. It’s not a lack of strength, as I’m fully convinced he could life our Honda Accord if it meant retrieving a bouncing ball. At even given time I feel like taking a “cute picture” I might have to be ready for THIS
That’s right! Thirty four (I swear that is just wrong) pounds of toddler fury ready to knock his sleep-deprived father on his ass. Oh, but it doesn’t end there. See, when Jack was around 20 months old I taught him the basic concepts of Professional Wrestling. So, he knows he needs to keep me down for a three count, which he will do. He will then sound the bell after three and go “DING! DING! DING!” and announce “Winner and new champion of the world: JACK!” and mimic the roar of a crowd. He does all this while I lay helplessly on the kitchen floor, spying all the pieces of scrambled egg that missed my rag’s sweeping motion hours earlier.
Unless it’s one of those days I decide to reverse the pin fall, but even then he usually manages to kick out before three.
So, Jack thinks he’s got it all figured out. Yet, the moment that laziness strikes there is a specific reason for it. He does not want to do the things that me and his mother have done for him for so long. He doesn’t want to dress himself. He doesn’t want to use the potty and NOT wear diapers. He doesn’t want to open his own backpack. Use a fork consistently. There is a much larger part of me that understands all of this than I would typically be comfortable admitting.
Jack doesn’t really want to grow up, and neither do I.
When he gives me or Allison this look that seems to say: “But you’ve ALWAYS done this for me!?” I know exactly how he feels. If you look up Peter Panism on Google, it would probably only be a matter of a few pages before you find my picture. The Toys R Us theme song, in some shape or form, goes through my head everyday. My motto used to be: “Whoever dies with the most toys wins!” I’ve come a long way, but by a lot of accounts I’m still a child. A good deal of this is the arrested emotional development that comes with addiction. I do believe that at some point in my life, more than likely around 14 or 15, I stopped emotionally developing and was able to (either via circumstance or manipulation) extend this delusion for almost 20 years. Now, the world is coming at us like a big bad wolf and it’s both exhilarating and scary.
So, I get what Jack is dealing with. I get the idea of doing all the things that I want to do and folding like a lawn chair at the idea of also doing the things I have to do. It wasn’t until I started to realize that those things I HAVE to do are actually things I GET to do. I get to do the dishes. I get to prove myself through action everyday. I get to make dinner. Now, I’m not perfect and I screw all this up on some level everyday. So does Jack.
We both want to be bigger, stronger, faster and have the world perceive us as bigger, stronger and faster. But, wait, you mean I have to take my own pants off also? You mean I have to take some responsibility? You mean that my actions or lack of actions have consequence? WHAT!?!? Say it ain’t so! But, it is. So, Jack will continue to rely on us to do for him the things he now CAN do for himself until we accept that he’s not gonna like it but he’s gonna have to accept that part of growing up means a little bit of discomfort. I hesitate to use the word “pain” at all in relation to my son, but pain is part of growing up. My friend John told me: “Pain is mandatory, suffering is optional.” You have to go through a little bit of pain before you can grow, so that you don’t continue to suffer. This can be translated into almost any facet of my life. If I’m not growing, I’m standing still and eventually I’ll get stagnant. I want to move along lines of progression and not maintenance. There is no status quo. There is no singular point that I will reach in either my life or the life of my family in which I’ll go “Ok. Enough of that. We can stop here.”
This may sound like a struggle. It’s not. It’s a gift.
A gift that I am only now getting to slowly unwrap. Jack’s hands will continue to be guided by us. He’ll experience all the frustration that he needs to, and so will Allison and I. The bottom line is ya gotta grow up sometime. For me, it was a lot later than most. For Allison, it was a lot earlier than most. My hope is, that like most things seem to be working out with Jack, his will be right in that healthy middle. But we’ll see.
Thanks for listening. Be well.