Busy not bad!

As-Salaamu-Alaikum (peace be with you)

I am not one of those deluded parents who imagine that my toddler is an angel. My toddlers are handfuls. I hesitate to say “bad”. But I will say that they are “busy”. By busy I mean they are literally into everything. Especially my two year old son. We are visiting relatives for the summer, (see previous post), and I am told constantly by my sister. “Whoo, your son is so bad.” (Never mind that her two sons were NIGHTMARES while growing up. And their behavior even today as young adults leaves a lot to be desired.) But she, and a few others have commented that, “he is bad.”

As his mother I feel that he is not bad but he is busy. Yes, very busy. Typical activities of his are; running everywhere he goes, he loves to climb up things and of course after reaching the top he has to jump off, he likes to take things out of wastebaskets, he likes to write on paper, and walls and carpets and table tops, he likes to throw things, okay everything, he opens doors and explores rooms, he will run outside, he pushes any button he can reach, he chases the cat, he opens the fish tank, he puts his hands in water, including the toilet bowl, he picks flowers, he likes to talk on the phone, and play on cell phones, he peels bananas, he makes copies, he…well you get the picture. If you can imagine it, he will do it.

Reading over this list, I’m thinking maybe he is bad. In his defense I will state that he does not do all of these activities at one time or in one day. He spaces it out nicely over a week. Sometimes he has a particularly busy “spurt”. Sometimes he’s quiet for a relatively long period of time. During this waiting period which generally lasts no more than thirty minutes, we sit waiting with baited breath for the next spurt. I believe that his behavior does not qualify as bad because it is age appropriate. When in a new environment he uses all of his senses to explore and understand his world. At his age, he learns by doing and experimenting. So he rolls and and drops things to see what will happen. He climbs and jumps because he is learning the limits of his physical ability and what his body can do. He puts everything in his mouth because this is a method of exploration at this age. He is my little scientist, a great and brave explorer in an unknown world.

I feel as his mother that my job is to encourage this exploration as a way of developing valuable learning skills that he will need to problem solve as he grows. My job is also to teach him what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Something things he knows, like he shouldn’t throw everything. Sure sometimes he is testing the limits of my patience and gauging my reactions. But I feel that too is normal and appropriate. I am working on improving his behavior and reigning him in so he doesn’t destroy your house. All I ask in return is a teeny tiny bit of patience and that you not label him as bad during this formative period.

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