Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Running on Empty

I am convinced that small children have absolutely no sense of their own energy reserves. An adult will realize that he or she is getting tired and will either slow down or take a short break to recharge. A small child, however, will keep going at top speed until he or she literally drops from exhaustion. So either they have no awareness that they’re running out of steam, or they’re simply in denial and assume they can go on forever (there are times when I’ve thought they might be right about that, I will admit).

It’s particularly funny when my son starts to run out of steam and refuses to slow down, because he gets all kind of weak-kneed and uncoordinated. He’ll be running around the house and will suddenly collapse mid-stride, landing in a puddle on the floor. Depending on how close he is to an empty tank, he’ll either laugh uproariously at himself (just starting to lose energy) or he’ll look puzzled and after a moment’s consideration, puddle up in frustration (nothing but fumes). And even then, it doesn’t seem to register that he should rest for a moment, because he just picks himself up and keeps running.

I should be thankful for this trait, because not only is it an endless source of amusement for me to watch, but it also means that when he goes to bed, he generally has nothing left to fight sleep with and goes right down without a fuss. As I’ve said before, he only has two speeds: on and off. And when he’s on, he’s on with all cylinders, pedal to the floor, not saving anything in reserve. And when he’s off, he’s out cold, not even fumes left in the tank. It’s not a bad way to be, in my opinion.

And although this on/off trait is true of many children, I find myself hoping that it’s also part of his general nature, and that he’ll continue to throw himself fully into whatever he does, not stopping until he has nothing left to give. My husband often says about himself that he likes to work hard and to play hard, and I admire that about his nature, so I hope my son has inherited that same determination and tenacity.

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