by Brad Thibodeau
While cleaning the house the other day, I held my son Carter's array of tiny rubber bands for a moment and smiled as I remembered him teaching me how to make rubber band jewelry.
When he came home with these a few weeks ago I was fascinated by how this activity held his interest. I asked him to show me how he made the bracelet he was wearing. The whole process seemed meditative for him, relaxing and satisfying. He sat on the couch, pulling and twisting these little pieces of rubber around his fingers like an artist. He explained how to create the knot that would start the chain. Put one around first and second fingers, add a second and push it further then the first. Next, grab the first band from your first finger and double it back to your second...then by twisting one into a figure 8 and sandwiching it between a few more, you've created the starting point for your jewelry. Whoa. Complicated. Yet he did it with the ease and dexterity only seen in 7 year old fingers.
Children are incredible teachers. They are naturally inclined to be in the "now", or to keep their heads in the same place as their feet. This can be difficult for us, our minds jump to things that we should be doing, tasks that we should complete, etc. But it doesn't always serve us so well. My boys have taught me much more than how to weave rubber bands together. They constantly remind me how to live and of what's important. Staying connected to them and invested in them is my priority. I stay interested in my son's activities because it keeps us connected, and keeps our love, and our relationships, alive. It builds their confidence and strengthens my influence. There's nothing else that can boast, or result in, that amount of incredible output.
We shouldn't under emphasize the importance of genuine interest. I'm interested in tiny rubber bands because my son is interested... not because I've secretly always wanted to create rubber band necklaces! Well maybe I have... Either way, It gives us something to talk about and shows that I genuinely like him as a person. As a responsible parent I realize it gives me leverage, and a starting point to discussion.
My parents showed great interest in my interests. It helped groom my confidence to navigate the world as an adult.
Is there an interest your son/daughter has that you know little about? Maybe they're fascinated by a particular video game or sport. Maybe they've been weaving a sweater out of rubber bands and you're not sure why. If so, could it be an opportunity to get closer and learn more about what makes them unique?
How about asking them to teach you how to play that video game they are obsessed with? Tell them you don't need to play *with* them... you just want to know more about it. Or ask them if you can read a book they enjoyed... or to make you a play list of their favorite music. Let them share their passion with you.
It is, quite possibly, the door to a missing connection.
Thanks for reading, see you all soon.
~ Brad Thibodeau
603-893-1299 ext. 331
603-893-1299 ext. 330
The 27th Annual Family Support Conference will be held at Attitash Grand Summit in Bartlett, NH May 3rd thorugh 5th. Read about this year's events and how to register.
The Children's Museum of New Hampshire will offer free visits while the museum is closed to the public for families with children who have austism spectrum disorders starting October 14th! The program will run the 2nd Sunday of the month, from 10am to 12pm, through June 9th. Learn More!
High Hopes Foundation of NH
NH Camp Summer Camps
NH Council on Autism Spectrum Disorders
NH Department of Education
NH Department of Social Services
NH Family Support Conference
NH Judicial Branch Probate Court
Parent Information Center