when alex was young, like before he could crawl-young, if something caught his eye he wanted, he would reach for it. if it was slightly out of his reach, he might stretch for it, a little bit, and by little bit i mean almost imperceptibly. if his fingers did not easily and cleanly grasp the bauble he would straighten back up, return his thumb to his mouth, assuming he ever took it out in the first place, and look away.
bella, conversely, would work for hours, it would seem, to possess any thing that caught her eye and she wanted to touch. she would not relent, grunting and crying and baby-cursing until she put fingers to it. once she held it, she might study it for a moment turning it in her small hands and then drop it by her side never to look at it again.
many complimented this trait in bella, remarking on what a fighter she is but to me the fight to attain something has turned out not to be the story's lead. more interesting is what happens after something has been attained.
alex, the one who would give up quickly on the shiny colorful thing, well, it turns out, he's simply a man who knows what he wants and possibly more importantly in these option-abundant days, knows what he doesn't want. and he doesn't want a lot of things and is not easily drawn to things simply for their look or because other people are drawn to them. but, but, but when alex does spy something he deems worthy or of interest, he will not be deterred and will exercise a drive that would impress even the bellas of the world. but, heaven help you if you try to push alex to something that doesn't tickle him because a hundred ice cream cones will not alter his position.
we found this to be the case with the water sports offered in utah. there were lots of options and alex had zero interest in any of them. as a parent you're tempted to push him into doing something, to take advantage of the neat opportunities before him but as you would guess those are some class five rapids you're looking at, both tricky and dangerous even for an expert hand. marty and i both struggled with holding back and giving alex his space. one week vacations don't last forever.
then kinda outta nowhere alex expressed an interest in knee-boarding. at first he dismissed the option out-right. i think the turning point may have come after he watched me try to learn to do it and witnessed me fail once, twice, three, four, and five times before figuring it out (and this after marty got it on her second go). maybe it was seeing me struggle that piqued his interest. or maybe it was seeing me succeed. or in an ideal and scripted world, it was him seeing me failing and then succeeding that caught his eye. regardless, out of nowhere he said that the next day he would try to learn to knee board.
the next day came and we were ready for an excuse but instead, he was the first on the boat. and when his turn came up, it didn't take him five times to master the skill, like it did me. it took him just twice.
quiet. studious. certain. that is our aleo.
i'd be remiss in not giving large barrels of credit to joshuaV who helped all of us all week and proved to be an exceptional teacher who possessed those essential teacher qualities: knowledge, patience and grace. and it doesn't hurt that he's super cool and looks like a rock star. thank you josh!!!