I’ve said it before that Titus often fascinates me because he is such an out-of-the-box thinker and he has learned many things on his own.
One afternoon he was counting aloud by 10s (something I had not taught him). He counted all the way up to 100. I turned over to him and said, “Where did you learn that? Who taught you that?” His Jedi-like reply was, “I know many things, mom.”
At this statement I started laughing really hard. He meant it with all sincerity. I followed up with, “Yes, but HOW did you learn to count by 10s?” Once again, I found it comedic when he said, “I think, mom! I just think!” It was almost like he was insulted that I questioned his ability to understand concepts on his own.
Recently, when my nieces, nephews and kids were doing a puppet show with my sister-in-law she asked everyone to make their puppets stand on their heads. Titus was the only one that thought of bending his puppet in half so that its feet touched its head…literally, standing on its head!
Because I haven’t spent too much time “teaching” him formally, I will have to give credit to John Holt’s idea that children are learning all the time. When they are not forced to learn too early, but provided with a stimulating, enriching environment in which to explore, create, build, invent, and discover, they educate themselves. Learning happens naturally and very often in the context of play. Titus certainly needs character training like my other children, but he has caught on just fine with the academics even without too much one-on-one instruction from me.
At four years old, he can read, comprehend, he is beginning to write better, he understands fundamental math concepts, and he is developing normally. He may not be as articulate as his older brothers were at his age, but he is a loving, happy, curious, and determined child…with a very positive opinion about himself. When I am teaching him, he will say, “This is sooo easy, mom!” And then he will start working and be like, “How do you do this again?”
I laugh alot with Titus. He has a unique perspective that I treasure as a mom. I appreciate that he doesn’t think linearly and that he pays attention to things that others might take forgranted.
One time he picked up a flattened fruit loop that was left on the floor of our condominium lobby. Everyone else thought it was dirty. But he picked it up and put it in his pocket. I didn’t realize this until we were in the car and he was cradling it in his hand. I told him he should throw it. After all, who knows where that fruit loop came from or who stepped on it? But he begged me to keep it.
Heck. Why not, I thought. If it matters that much to him and it isn’t a life and death issue, why can’t he be himself and keep it? He’s the only one who thought of doing so anyway and it’s important to him. So I told him he could and that made his day. A little fruit loop. I made him promise not to eat it and he didn’t.Whew!
Titus has stretched my parenting muscles a lot. I used to get really frustrated with him because he would take things apart, break his toys, color and draw in his books, tear out pages, peel the labels off things like crayons (he still does), hide objects under his bed like marbles and cereal, get himself into precarious predicaments, and bullheadedly insist on his way.
For example, when he was 8 months old, he weaned himself from breastfeeding. I was so upset and sad about it. None of my other children did this. I really wanted him to breastfeed for longer to keep bonding with him. But he insisted that he was ready to move on to the bottle. My fear was he would be deprived of affection because he was my third child. Without those bonding sessions, I didn’t get to hold him as often.
This was my first experience with Titus’ different way of doing things. Initially, I wanted to control him. I wanted to force him to breastfeed. But he ended up biting me! So that was it, I surrendered that stage over to the Lord. Crying and depressed, I accepted his decision to wean.
Such was the beginning of my parenting adventures with Titus. It took me a while to recognize that God designed Titus with a personality that was hand-picked by Him for a reason and purpose.
Titus turned out to be one my most affectionate children, my big hugger. In fact, he is such a touch person, he will randomly head butt people to get their attention! On certain mornings, he will crawl into bed beside me after he wakes up and let me drape my whole self around him like a pillow. He is the only one who will lie there contentedly and still. He won’t squirm away or complain that I am too heavy. And he will come up to me and randomly hug and kiss me during the day without being asked to. Who would ever have thought my earliest weaned baby would have become like this?
I love all my children equally but God taught me how to love my Titus. Through Titus, God has helped me to grow in character, especially in the area of patience!
His birthday is coming up in two days and I wanted to write this to celebrate the joy and color that he has brought into our lives. I could’ve missed out on appreciating him had I placed him in a mold of my own liking…to make my parenting “convenient.” But God made certain children out-of-the-box — children who make us see the world differently, who challenge the norm (in a good way), who keep us from getting complacent about our parenting, and who make us dependent upon the Lord for the creativity and wisdom we need to instruct them. Titus is special just the way he is and I hope that Edric and I can keep encouraging him to grow in the Lord and become the man that God wants him to be.