Dad Instincts Daddy Blog Holiday Stories

Letting Kids Be Who They Are

This summer Crash Kid #1 attended his first camp. Since he’s only 11 years old I attended with him. We had a great time, but before we went to the camp he had to decide which merit badges to take. As he looked through the list he started picking merit badges like leatherworks, metalworks, art, photography, and chess. As he was working through the list he got to horsemanship (my favorite merit badge by far) and he quickly said, “Oh no. I’m not doing that.”

At first my heart was a little broken that he didn’t want to do the best merit badge out there. I love horses. They scare me a bit, but I love them. They’re so powerful and so extraordinary. My gut reaction to him immediately discarding horsemanship was to try and convince him to change his mind. After I took a deep breathe I decided that this was his scout camp and not mine. As I thought about it more, I was proud of my choice to let him be who he wants to be.

That’s not to say that on occasion we shouldn’t expose kids to new things, but sometimes it’s clear that kids have an affinity to some things over others. Of course, I was shocked when later they had a special horseback riding excursion that two of the other boys were doing. I asked Crash Kid #1 if he wanted to go with them or not. I was shocked when he said he did want to go with them. To be honest, I wasn’t that excited since it’s basically follow the butt in front of you horseback riding. However, there was no way I was going to say no when he said he was interested.

I saw this same principle reinforced when Curtis started planning his birthday party. Yes, his birthday was in April, but we’d been traveling so much we didn’t get to it until many months later. Regardless, Crash Kid #1 started going into full on party planning mode. He’s totally addicted to planning and creating things. A party was the perfect place for him to invent new games, plan variations on other games, and fully decorate our home for a minion birthday party including a box of shame (which all the kids loved!).

While I’d rather gouge my eyes out with a sharp object than do all this party planning, Crash Kid #1 was in his element. I think he enjoyed planning the party more than the party itself. Once again I was reminded of my need to let him be who he was and enjoy the things he liked. That’s not always easy as a parent.

Of course, as I was thinking about these incidents and Crash Kid #1’s love of art, inventing and creating, I came across this image:
Kids and Art