Boys and Bugs - Meeting Your Kids Where They Are

It would have been so much easier to force him to be more like me, but I chose to meet him where he is.  

Growing up, I was terrified of bugs.  I had an irrational fear of insects.  I had nightmares about spiders and if I saw a bug, I would beg someone else to kill it.

My youngest son often remarks, "I am obsessed with bugs." This is an understatement.  He adores bugs - he looks for them constantly, catches them, observes them, and reads about them.  He loves bugs to the point that he prioritizes bugs over all other activities.   

When it comes to bugs, we could not be more different.  

Because my son loves bugs so much, I had to make a decision.  I could try to change my son - I could beg him, or even force him, to do activities I love.  I could try to convince him to ride his bike with me.  I could insist that he read children's books about any topic other than bugs with me.  I could try to control what he loves and the person he becomes.

Or, I could meet him where he is.  I could attempt to grow past my fear.  I could let him teach me about bugs, read to me about bugs, and I could help him find bugs.

It would have been so much easier to force him to be more like me, but I chose to meet him where he is.  

Over the past few years, I've read numerous books about insects aloud to my son.  I've spent many hours in the backyard trying to catch insects.  I have spiders and all forms of creepy, crawly caterpillars in jars and containers around my house.  This Saturday, I spent over 6 hours at Bug Fest at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.  At bug fest, I watched my son tremble with excitement and anticipation.  He held huge hissing cockroaches, and he allowed grasshoppers to crawl all over his arms.  He encouraged me to touch the bugs too- so in one day I touched more bugs than I had previously touched in my lifetime.

There are no words for the joy that he experienced that day.  As I watched him, in his element, fully in the moment, my heart was full.  I was allowed to witness my son as he was wholly and completely himself.  

I am so glad that I chose to meet him where he is instead of trying to make him be someone that he is not.

Parenting is hard.  When your children are very different from you, it is even harder.  It would be easier to understand a child that thinks exactly the way I do.  It would be easier to bond with a child that loves the same things that I love.  However, we are all different.  If you have a child that is different than you, I encourage you to search for a common interest that you can embrace together.  It may require you to overcome a phobia, to learn a new skill, or to do some things that make you uncomfortable.  But if you meet your children where they are, the reward is huge.

Do you want to know the craziest part of all of this?  I am beginning to like insects now!   As I have learned about insects with my son, I have discovered that they are not a scary and creepy as I once believed them to be.  By meeting my son where he is, I've grown.  I wish you luck as you meet your kids where they are.  


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