Some kids like to play video games on play dates, others like to kick the soccer ball around.
But it turns out my middle kid enjoys a good game of chess and practicing phrases from other languages.
“Really,” I asked, after he returned from a good friend’s house. “You played chess and practiced learning Russian?”
He looked at me as if this was simply par for the course among fifth-graders.
Each of my three sons has a distinct personality. The oldest is your typical hardworking and eager-to-please kid, the youngest has an iron will and things come easily to him. But my middle kid was probably meant to be born into another family.
Where we’re uptight and rigid and very linear, he is dreamy and artistic and creative. We’re constantly looking at the clock, barking orders, and explaining the cause and effect of things. He’s looking at butterflies, digging in the mud, and creating sculptures out of gum drops.
I think he’s a great kid, but I confess I don’t always understand him. My husband is a lawyer and I’m a journalist, we’re both very practical and keyed into deadlines. “I don’t understand,” I’ll say to my 11-year-old with my hands up in the air. “What were you doing for the last 20 minutes?”
The answer may be anything from kicking a miniature soccer ball around his room dressed in only his bathrobe to writing an original comic book.
When I let go of my concerns about his dreamy tendencies, I can see his wonderful qualities of his shine through. He plays the cello and loves classical music. He tries to figure out the French phrases in the opera “Carmen.” And, best of all, his sensitive nature makes him the most affectionate of my three boys.
But every blue moon I get nervous that he’ll always be the kid misplacing his shoes or his lunchbox and will be drawing rainbows instead of learning long division.
“Mom,” I lamented on the telephone. “He’s a dreamer! He can’t get his head out of the clouds. And I worry. . . he’s. . . nerdy.”
She paused for a moment and then very calmly said to this former violin-playing, glasses-wearing, wanna-be poet, “He sounds just like you at that age.”
And you know, I think she’s right.