Saturday, July 14, 2012

Learning solitude

It's been ten days since my older son, Gavin, left for North Carolina. He is having such a wonderful time that we've hardly heard from him (which is both reassuring and dismaying). The little one, however, is finding life without his best friend and favorite enemy difficult. The longest he had ever been without his brother was overnight. It didn't occur to me that solitude was not something he would understand or appreciate.

For some of us, solitude is our preferred state. My husband, my older son and I are all eldest children. Solitude was something we understood early on, and still crave (especially living in a small two bedroom apartment where nobody get much of it). For poor Aiden, it's simply weird to be alone for long periods of time. He's always shared a room with a sleeping partner. The idea of "share" and "play together" and "stick together" were all early realities and familiar refrains. This new enforced solitude is uncomfortable. He doesn't know how to do it. This is why he's taken to following me around and I go through my day and climb into bed with us frequently. He drags stuffed animals around to talk to and has professes a new fear of bathing alone.

This has been an enlightening experience about how our family functions from day to day and a startling look into places parenting has gone wrong. We depend on our boys being together- learning from each other and entertain each other- to get through the days. We also have neglected to teach our younger son how to be comfortable in solitude for more than few minutes at a time. It's not an instinctive state for humans, social creatures that we are; it is a learned behaviour that has incredible benefits for our minds and souls. Like any other learned behaviour, it requires practice and patience while we acclimate to it. Strangely, I have put much thought into why I enjoy solitude and how I came to embrace it. Little Aiden, who is busy poking me in the back as I write, has yet again opened my eyes to lessons I never imagined I'd need to learn.

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