Of late, I have been doing some serious bonding with my son Reggie. He is eight and at an age where we can relate deeply in a new emotional way. I have written before how early childhood parenting wasn’t my forte. It has gotten much better as the years went by.
We have been spending a lot of time together and at eight he is ready to hear some life lessons that I wasn’t prepared to deliver earlier.
Parenting fascinates me because while I know I do a decent job on a certain level, I am making choices and saying things on a daily basis that could easily come back to haunt me. But what can you do? Onwards and upwards, as they say.
One of my sons less endearing features is the slack jawed tendency to hang his mouth open in repose. It drives my wife a little crazy and I can’t say that I find it endearing. A while back I wrote a post about a neck x-ray he had that scared me more than a little. The x-ray and the slack jaw go in hand in hand.
He is probably hypermobile with joints that might even be looser than mine.
Last night Reggie and I went to dinner together that involved a half hour walk to the restaurant. He knows well how much his walking pattern drives me crazy but at the same time I don’t want to be the parent that busts my children’s chops about everything they do. It is a fine and confusing line.
My son walks by kicking his lower leg out and he basically moves from the knee down. This is a pretty common pattern that I see all too often and while I pointed it out to him long ago I have never really asked him to stop or change. You can see what I mean in the guy at the back of the picture below. He walk by snapping his lower leg forward.
Last night on our walk he mentioned the dental x-ray for some reason so I took the opportunity to play some walking games.
I had him walking in his usual manner, which slaps the feet down with a thud, and had him feel his jaw. Then I asked him to walk with shorter softer steps and feel his jaw. He started cracking up in an infectious way that he has that I love so much.
Then I made him go back and forth from his old walk to his new— feeling his jaw and eliciting the same cackle with each transition.
And we did the same thing— rotating his pelvis—when he was sitting at the restaurant. He loved that he could feel it in the jaw so clearly.
This morning, as I was writing this, listening to his feet slap the ground, he came to my office and said, “Daddy I haven’t been walking the right way all morning. I’m going to switch now.”
And then demonstrated his beautiful new walk.
I can be pretty pedantic, and lord knows I love to lecture my children, but true learning only comes through experience. And if he chooses over the next few years to incorporate some better walking patterns his slack jawed looseness and hypermobility might not come back to haunt him.