At age 1 he started beating on a toy canvas drum – the kind you might find in a state park or amusement park gift shop. “How cute,” we thought. At about the same age, he became adamant about learning letters and numbers. We attributed these actions to the natural evolution of a child who was discovering and wondering. Parker is 9 years old now, and he still beats on drums, and he still obsesses over facts and information. What we thought were cute fads have become a part of Parker’s personality, seemingly his reason for being.
Parker has literally beaten the skins off of several of the canvas drums he played with years ago. Over the past few years, he has become the owner of a set of beginner bongos, a djembe, and a set of used drums. While he does not have an understanding and the skills necessary to be the back beat of his own rock group, he does have a sense of rhythm and an ear for music.
When Parker is not drumming, he is pouring over books and the Internet (surfing to approved sites only, of course). He is fascinated with information about other countries and cultures. He reads reference books, atlases and encyclopedias for pleasure. He would choose non-fiction over fiction, given the choice. Subsequently, he absorbs volumes (literally) of information.
Parker’s toddler-age obsessions have blossomed into genuine interests that will likely be his focus for years to come. We are excited that he derives so much joy out of music and learning. As resources allow, we try to provide Parker with opportunities to improve and concentrate his talents. We do not push.
We have been accused of pushing him by various educators. Their bias and preconceptions blind them to our reality. They do not understand that we have to remind our son that when the day draws to a close and we have become weary, it is okay to put books away and share his latest discovery on the coming day. We force ourselves not to hold Parker back regardless of his aspirations. So it should be with any child. Challenging our son does not equate to pushing, and encouraging a child to read 2nd-grade-level books when his or her reading level is that of 4th grade can be as unfair as “pushing.”
As always, we try to balance our children’s desires as so their passions do not dominate their lives. Chores, play, and a varied curriculum are important. Sometimes just doing nothing is okay, too. We hope that we are effective guides for Parker and all of our children in respect to teaching them values, whether they like to drum or not, read or not.