My Son, the Nincompoop

The other day I read this article from 2010 about how we’re raising modern kids to be nincompoops. I thought it was a little scary, a little funny and a whole lot biased–I work with teenagers and while there are a fair number of nincompoops, there are also some very bright kids. I’ve got to imagine that’s always been the case. Plus, you can’t evaluate kids as being idiots for not knowing how to do something they were never taught or exposed to (and yes, I understand there are some critical thinking skills that come into play, but I remember being 14 and not thinking too critically too).

About the same time, though, our day care teacher mentioned to me that Wolfe is not interested in walking. Other kids, she said, like to try to stand or pull themselves up or at least pretend to crawl. Our son, however, seemed content to wallow in his non-walkingness. Immediately my parental paranoia kicked in. Had my wife and I already begun creating the nincompoop the writer of that article predicted? By virtue of carrying him around everywhere and not letting him fall off high and/or unsteady objects, were we destroying his ambition? Would he be devastated the first time he failed, at age 25, and then retreat back into our basement to play video games and stare in befuddlement at those clothes hangers?

My wife, usually the more uptight one, seemed unbelievably blase about the whole thing. She pointed out his ginormous noggin, which makes it harder for him to roll over, crawl or even hold himself upright. She gently reminded me that when we asked the doctor about it, the doctor said he’s doing just fine and we can check him again in a month. I was somewhat soothed, but still felt uneasy.

Then, on Saturday, my son was sitting on the floor when his toy rolled away from him. He reached for it, overextended himself, and did a face plant. I rushed over to make sure he was ok. He rolled over, laughed, and grabbed his toy. I realized then that he had failed, and he had survived, and I was more shaken up about it than he was. Today, during our snow day, he was rolling all over the floor and even made a few attempts at crawling (a combination of slippery socks and wood floors somewhat stymied him, but soon enough we’ll have to start fencing him in).

Turns out, my son’s not a nincompoop (at least not yet). He’s just developing at his own pace, because he can’t read the charts that say what he’s supposed to be doing and when. He’s well ahead of the milestones for talking, he’s picked up eating solid foods like a champ, and now he’s crawling–just at the time he’s decided he’s ready. (He’s like his mom in that regard, stubborn and headstrong.)

In the meantime, I’m going through all his books and changing the animals. I don’t want him to get the wrong idea about appropriate workplace roles.

Unleash Your Own Crankiness

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