When we were young, maybe six and four, my brother had an obsession with bats. During playtimes (read: all day long) he was either batman, a bat, or a bat scientist. He regularly pretended he could fly, jumped our stairs into the room below, and flapped his billowing cape in my face as he raced to the bat mobile.
During all of this, my mother remained patient. She must have felt some frustration that he would never wear anything but bat capes and bat ears, but she kept quiet. As you can see from the picture above, she even made him a bat costume for Halloween one year.
In fact, my parents leveraged my brother’s interest in night-flyers toward all kinds of scientific pursuits. We regularly visited the Congress Street Bridge in Austin Texas where we lived at the time, to see the bats flood the night sky at dusk. Once, my four-year-old brother even had the opportunity to interview the President of Bat Conservation International. I still remember him posing for a picture with his hero, a page of notes clasped in his little hand.
Further, my parents even rescued an injured bat one evening and brought it home to live in a cardboard box for recovery. We weren’t allowed to touch it, of course, but I believe we fed it something, and eventually moved it into the backyard. One day we left the box open to the sky in hopes that the Poor Sick Bat, as we named him, would fly away home. When we returned home, the Poor Sick Bat was gone.
As a mother now myself, I finally understand the depth of my mother’s patience where bats and my brother were concerned. I have a daughter who will wear nothing but the color pink, accept no clothing upon her body but a princess dress. She put up a fight of epic proportions on Sunday when I told her, No, you may not wear your tinkerbell costume to church. Lest you think me a cold-hearted mother, the temperature was freezing and it was raining. Not exactly tinkerbell weather.
While there are boundaries (my parents never let my brother go to church in bat gear), I find such a wonderful example in the way my mother accepted and nurtured our interests. One of the most amazing things about having children is that they are their own selves. My children are not me. They have their own personalities, interests, likes, and dislikes. I cannot make Abby like the color gray, as hard as I might try. She is a girly kind of girl, and the best thing I can do as her mother is appreciate her for who she is.
Instead of trying to change my children, I’ve been taking a good hard look at their interests. Hudson loves space (no surprise to you, if you’ve been reading here for awhile). He also loves the color red, science, and anything he can explore. He never tires of learning.
Abby loves pink, princesses, and animals. She wants to push dollies around in her mini stroller, serve me tea, and dress up as a princess. Abby is also my littler performer, always performing songs and dances for us before bed in the evening.
What I want to learn as their mother, is how to nurture and cherish these interests so they will always love being themselves. I also strive to leverage these interests into learning. With Hudson and space that is easy. With Abby and pink, I have a little more trouble. Maybe she loves color and will be an artist?
How about you? I’d love to hear some practical ways you encourage the interests of your own children. Do you ever have difficulty choosing patience with a particularly quirky child? I know for a fact my parents went a little crazy having a daughter who only wanted to sit on the couch and read all day, and never, ever go outside. Yes, I used to be a book nerd. Now, I sew and blog and have three children. I guess I turned out ok. As for my brother? You’ll be glad to know he doesn’t run around dressed as bat boy anymore. At least not that I know of.
So, what were some of your quirks?
Thanks for reading! I know this post is off topic from the sewing projects I usually discuss here. It’s been awhile since I talked about parenting, but this is particularly interesting to me as someone who loves to create and learn. Ta ta for now!