“I just need a lot of your attention” Max told me when snapped at him after he interrupted me for the 4th time while I was trying to hold a conversation with a friend. Max likes to play, but it’s only interesting to him if I am watching him narrate his entire game and providing occasional commentary. If Max wants your attention he demands it. And he demands it a lot, whether it’s ‘watch me play with dinosaurs’ or ‘ what are you guys talking about’ when Max is in the room he’s a part of what is going on. It’s delightful and frustrating all at the same time.
But I have another son.
One who, when the spotlight is on his brother tends to retreat into his own games and toys. The one who can count to 10 in 3 languages, loves to learn new things, can do 4 puzzles at once, can stack a perfect tower taller than himself, has never once held a pencil incorrectly, and can jump higher and father than his brother. An empathetic child who sits with his brother when his brother who is supposed to be in time out, who says “it’s ok, don’t cry” when people are upset. A complete and utter goofball on the occasions where he does hold the spotlight, clever and silly. Little Hudson, who will ask you to color with him or to build a tower with him or sit with him but will be fine to go do something else if you are too busy.
It’s not about loving one any more than the other or favorites, but when you’re balancing 4 careers between two people, a busy life and two kids, the one who demands your attention gets in the way of time with the one who asks politely.
I had the realization this past weekend that when it comes to my little Hudson I need to adjust my parenting style. I’ve always felt confident on how to parent Max because he’s a lot like me. There is no mystery to Max in my mind, I know what he’s going to say or do before he says it. Hudson is different from all three of us. Not better, not worse, just different. If you want to go all zodiac about it you’ve got 3 fire signs (Me: Aries, Jeff and Max: Leo) and here comes Hudson, the Aquarius who leaves us all a bit mystified. There’s so much we can learn from Hudson and discover about him, but we have to slow down and pay attention.
I haven’t been as good of a parent to Hudson as I could have been because I’ve been waiting for him to tell me what he needs as loudly as his brother does. I need to listen closer. So it’s time to adjust our focus. Max will get his attention regardless. Hudson needs to get the focus and attention now and since he won’t demand it, it’s up to us. This is, in fact, dawning of the age of Aquarius (sorry, couldn’t resist). Jeff and I need to change tactics and get more involved, after all, he needs a lot of our attention too.