Give a Kid a Little Extra Time…
A day at the beach, a great idea, and a kid who doesn’t want to transition.
In previous posts, I’ve mentioned Enzo’s remarkable childhood ability to sit in the sand and have fun with a bucket and a shovel for hours on end. In the days before he discovered race cars, it was all about the dump trucks and front-loaders. He didn’t have the patience to get properly dressed, stay sitting down while he ate his sandwich, or watch a movie past the first act, but mention that we were going to the beach and that kid would get organized! The best present I ever got for him was three miniature shovels. One would have made him happy, but three meant he got to direct a crew. Holes were dug. Castles were built. Friends were buried.
There was one afternoon, after school, when a group of us went to our inner-city reservoir, an oasis of leisure nestled between two busy highways, for some afternoon playtime. Half the kids were naked, some of them swam, babies put sand in their mouths, and moms had a chance to speak full sentences to one another. Eight-year-old Enzo was down by the water line, deeply focused on dragging his shovel this way and that, and before we knew it, it was time to head home.
This is why Attention Deficit is the wrong name for this kind of mind. A kid might not have the ability to focus on tying a shoe or following a plot, but let him be in charge of his own attention and watch him go. Enzo was in the flow, and his imagination was a force of nature.
“Let’s go, Enzo,” I said at four.
“I’m not quite ready yet,” he said, negotiating for some more time.
“Come on, Enzo, time to go,” I said at four-thirty.
“Please, mom, just a few minutes more?” I paced the beach, said goodbye to our friends, and made a shopping list.
“It’s time,” I said at four-forty-five.
“Wait ‘til you see this,” he called. “It’s almost done, just another minute.”
At five minutes to five, the beach attendant was making eye contact with me, and finally Enzo walked up with his shovels in the beach bag.
“First, you have to come see.” He led me down to the water’s edge and proudly described how his complicated series of locks and dams could draw water from the lake into a pool he’d built. Even the beach attendant, who had come over to herd us out, had to admit it was quite ingenious. I had given Enzo the gift of patience, and he had found his own gifts. The thing he said as he walked proudly to the car became a motto that helped us negotiate transitions — and completions — for years to come. “See,” he said, “give a kid a little extra time and he’ll create a masterpiece.”