Introducing… Mr. Excitement!

Introducing… Mr. Excitement!

When I started this blog, I decided not to use the actual first names of my children to compensate for the fact that I may share details of their lives that might potentially be embarrassing later in life. Not mortifyingly embarrassing, but the sort of thing that you might not want “out there” if you’re running for office. Or the kind of cute childhood story that your high school friends will constantly rib you about. So since the boys had no say in this, my writing adventure, I’ll be using nicknames for them. So let me introduce you to my first-born son, we call him Mr. Excitement. He gets excited about being excited. He loves getting everyone around him very excited, and he loves to create excitement. You would think that this trait would go hand-in-hand with risk-taking personality, but no, Mr. Excitement is quite cautious as well. Both seemingly contradictory parts of his temperament seem hard-wired and were noticeable from the very first moments we met him.

Newborn babies sleep a lot—a whole lot. They normally stay awake long enough to eat, eliminate, and take in a bit of the new chaotic world they’ve discovered before realizing that it is a bit too much and they need some sleep to process it all. Not Mr. Excitement. No. Mr. Excitement will fight going to sleep because the world is too exciting. Mr. Excitement thinks that this new world is SO fascinating as he’s given a tour of the maternity ward hallway in his little wheeled bassinette, that his wide-open, observant eyes start earning him comments from the nurses, “wow, look at how attentive he is, checking out this new world.” From day one he was bound and determined to take in every last drop of the world around him, to heck with sleep. I don’t even remember how long he stayed awake that first time just after he was born—it seems like it must have been hours. Feeding him made him too excited to sleep. Sucking on a pinky finger was exhilarating—couldn’t possibly go to sleep after that. Doing bodily things is exciting in a bad way and makes him cry. His doctor assured us fast potty-training in the future—here’s to always looking at the bright side of life! Less than half a day old, Mommy was looking for creative ways to quiet and calm him. Quietly swaying him in a darkened bathroom with the shower running helped, a little.

And now, as a seven-year-old, he’s just as excitable as ever, and just as hard to get to sleep. A nice, warm bath is thrilling. Calm bedtime stories are stimulating. A darkened calm room, painted in soothing, calming colors, with no toys as visual distractions, and a little background white noise still apparently spurs his brain into action. And the very last thing that happens before Mr. Excitement finally hits a wall and collapses into deep sleep is a rapid-fire recap of the day peppered with interesting, often profound questions. And seemingly because he knows “the wall” is about to be hit, he rattles off this bedtime download as fast as possible, like Martin Scorsese after one too many espressos. We’ve tried all sorts of relaxing techniques to humorous effect—gentle massage causes heaps of giggles. Soothing music brings about energetic singing performances.

But the reality is that this is just part of who he is and trying to undo his excitement is a futile act. So while he may always be one of those people that has a really hard time unwinding before going to bed, his excitement about everything else in his life is positively infectious. It is his excitement that drives him to take his wooden train tracks and build a whole network of lines from the living room, through the dining room and kitchen and out into the front hallway with multiple branch lines. That particular train setup made vacuuming difficult for nearly a month. Then there was the time we went shopping at the toy store when he was three. We were there for what seemed like hours, not because he made a fuss about wanting a specific toy, but because he was fascinated with all the things in the shop—we couldn’t leave until he carefully did a full inventory of every item the store had for sale. Each item was fully inspected and politely put back on the shelf—many other parents asked me how I managed to keep him from begging for toys. He wasn’t interested in anything that day but thoroughly checking out their stock of toys.

Quite possibly the thing we most love about his excitement is how much he loves learning. Once, at the dinner table when he was about 3 or 4, he became uncharacteristically quiet—normally he gabbers all through the meal. Puzzled, I asked him what he was thinking. And after a pause, his big eyes looked up at me and he said, “I really LOVE counting, it makes me happy.” Ah, moments like that are parental gold. In my head I was doing cartwheels and putting on a ticker-tape parade, but outwardly I gently tilted my head and said, “yup, counting is SO much fun…just wait until you start doing MATH!” And the big eyes looked back at me with newfound excitement!

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