When faced with any challenge in life, one must decide to surrender or commit to resolve. Allow me to share the struggles that I experience with my grandson. He is not your average five-year- old. My husband Bubby and I are challenged daily by his displays of erratic behavior. The “Growing Up Alo” segments will reveal how Bubby and I have decided to interact with, and best support, our little guy.
I am familiar with a couple of medical diagnoses that may categorize his extremely high energy. I have discussed his dynamic behavior with his pediatrician in the past, and his kind-hearted doctor offered encouragement by suggesting that he will settle-down after he starts school. But, what will we do in the meantime? As his grandparents we are truly not interested in any medical label, and we don’t necessarily want to slow him down. We are interested in helping him control his impulses and to learn to focus and relax. But more importantly, to hone his natural talents, and to appreciate nature and life. This will create less work and stress for his teachers. Okay, I suppose I have to reveal my hidden motive now, which is less stress for Bubby, his mother, and me. We further hope to reduce his own stressors while allowing him to fine tune his greatness.
I am thankful that our daughter selected a powerful name for him. Alo (pronounced Aló). His name means “Spiritual Leader, or Guide”, in the Hopi, Native American culture. In different African cultures it means “Unity,” or “One”. His last name also gives him a strong identity. Diallo means “Bold,” in Guinea Conakry, where his biological father's tribe is from. While researching his paternal family history I learned that many Diallo tribesmen have become professional athletes.
At his current age of five, Alo already has the endurance and physical agility equal to a high performance adult. His high energy, combined with his athleticism, makes him difficult to keep up with. This sometimes makes it hard for him to identify with children his own age. He seems to overwhelm them, and tire them out physically and mentally. Alo became a handful when he started walking at eight months old. At age one the climbing and jumping began. This kid would even hold his eyelids open to keep from falling asleep. Just before his second birthday, Alo’s father started taking extreme measures to slow him down. I was highly disturbed to learn that his father would condition him by having him run a non-stop mile on a daily basis. I personally felt that he was too young for that long of a distance. His father also hoped to tire him out, only to find that one mile was not enough to do the job. Alo has always been light on the scale for his age, so I worried about overexertion, especially because he had poor eating habits.
He is naturally physically adept. To divert from his dad's routine and provide some structure I introduced him to gymnastics at age two and he progressed rather quickly. However, I discontinued because he lacked the discipline to properly follow directions at the time. Instead, I introduced him to roller skating which was met with great success. At age three he learned to ride a bicycle without training wheels. Just before his fourth birthday he learned to ride his electric motorcycle. At age four he took on ice skating with graceful balance and coordination. During this same time, rock climbing an artificial wall was not a challenge for him either, even without a hoist. Did I mention that this kid can jump like a flea? When this kid starts jumping, I stop whatever I am doing to watch him. I may even find a mat to soften his landing. Who knows, he may jump his way into the Olympics, or break a Guinness World Record one day.
Bubby and I took him hiking in Knights Ferry, California, last year and he embarrassed and scared us because we honestly could not keep up with him. When he is home with his mother she too gets overwhelmed. She finds it hard to keep up with him even more so since she and his father separated. She relies heavily upon his tablet to keep him occupied since she does not have a lot of space in her small multi-family community. It is the one thing that holds his attention, other than riding one of his electric vehicles very fast. We were blessed when his uncle and aunt in Texas intervened and kept him for a summer to give us all a much needed break.
While we have exposed him to lots of activities the time came for true grandparent intervention. Alo did not have an established sleep schedule at home with his mother. She often surrendered from fatigue while trying to subdue him. After recognizing this dilemma, we offered to keep him part time to help him establish a healthy routine. His new nighttime regime now includes calm, and rhythm. At bedtime we wind down with Vetiver and/or Lavender essential oils, a story, or a song. He creates music with his Tibetan singing bowl, or his wooden percussion frog instrument. This is followed by deep breathing and his iHome Zenergy Meditative Light & Sound Therapy Candle.
During the day, I’ve taken the liberty of enrolling him into Transitional Kindergarten. He is not at all fond of remote learning, but he does engage with his teacher. Interaction between him and other students is rather difficult post COVID-19. He does attend daycare a few times a week with a trusted childcare provider, and this provides some peer interaction. Our home environment is conducive to our nature walks that we take a few times a week. We continue maximum exposure when it comes to physical activities. He’s gone kayaking and fishing, visited museums and aquariums, plus he joins us on our travels.
We are slowly working on improving his diet by including more fruit and vegetables, and introducing non-dairy items whenever possible. Alo helped me plant a small summer garden and I discovered that he loves cucumbers. He eats them like candy. I bought children's probiotics, and prebiotics and recently learned about children's supplements that help with focus that I plan to purchase. He continues to crave sweets, and we are working to reduce and eliminate the purchase of foods with high sugar content altogether. I am very thankful that he loves water, just like our girls did.
He continues to present one challenge that we will work on in the near future. He tends to get overstimulated around others, especially large crowds. After we tackle his high energy relief efforts we may find improvement with this concern. I often wonder if our isolated environment contributes to his excitability since we have no immediate next door neighbors. I fear that he is missing a vital element. The opportunity to socialize with others. After COVID-19, we look forward to returning him to an organized sport. In the meantime, we encourage his freeplay. He uses this time to master his wheeled vehicles.
We are building a chicken coop so he can raise Silkie chickens.
(The Silkie chicken breed has fluffy, silky, feathers.)
This winter we will plant a winter crop, and introduce him to skiing and snowboarding.
This coming summer he will take swimming lessons and who knows what else. This is just the beginning of our grandparent intervention. We hope to fine tune as time goes on to give Alo the opportunity to excel in life.