I learned something about Early Bird the other day. He mentioned having needs that I didn’t notice. And when I didn’t notice, he thought those needs were invalid or unimportant, so he just kept it to himself and was sad. I tried to explain that I can’t read his mind, and that I don’t notice everything, that I need him to tell me his need. But at first he didn’t seem to believe me.
I asked him if he was expected to notice all of his dog’s needs. I pointed out that he doesn’t always notice when the dog needs to go out, and that’s okay because I notice and let him out. “yeah, but then he gets forgotten and has to bark to be let back in!” Early Bird wailed. “That’s right,” I said, “he communicates his need to come back in and we do it.” “Ohhhhhhh….” as the idea light bulb slowly brightened his face.
Now part of this is my fault; I am rather good at intuiting their needs or even telling them what they need, like “hey, you’re acting grumpy, maybe you’re hungry!” But part of it is also Early Bird not realizing that that everything that goes on in his head isn’t obvious to everyone else. (Sometimes I forget he’s only 8.) Which I can relate to all to well with my own childhood.
I really hope he took to heart the lesson that needs need to be communicated; that just because I didn’t notice doesn’t mean they’re unimportant. I didn’t know this was going on with him, and I probably would never have thought to ask. So I am hoping that you reading this will prompt a fruitful discussion with your child, just in case they’re doing this, too.