We are in a new little man phase. Everything is BIG. So DRAMATIC. So WORTHY OF ALL CAPS. And of course he has been like this since his baby days, wailing in my arms as I pace the hallways. But now, it seems even bigger. His sister goes in to his room and hands him a cookie and I wait for the shriek, "HER IS BIGGER THAN MINE!" We interrupt his play to call him to dinner and you would think we torched his toys and threw them out in the trash. "BUT I AM PLAYING!!! NOOOOOO!!"
There is something about 6 1/2 to 7 though, temperment aside, that is BIG. SO BIG. They are going from a place of fanciful childhood to one that is a little more aware of the world, a little more leery of change and new things and more self aware too, of who they are and who they are in this big world.
Today we leave for the grocery store and he has spent 20 minutes dressing his stuffed dog (insisting that I find soft fabric to make him a shawl, etc) and as we are about to leave he looks up at me with big brown eyes, "But the other kids will laugh and think I am a baby for carrying a stuffed dog!" This is the same little man who would wear a green silkie cape with a necktie to the park because "it looks cool."
And then there is the sense of justice. IT MUST BE FAIR AND EVEN. We play family Uno for 20 pleasant minutes on Sunday night, and the loss of a game he thought he was going to win sends him to the edge. I AM SO STUPID. I HATE HATE HATE IT. (Using all the evil words he knows.)
And then this leads to the need for a new kind of discipline. My default reaction (after wanting to snap or yell some days, I admit) is to want to reason with him. "You won the game before by way more points than me! You cant win every game!" But then he tries to reason back. And it is maddening. No, you cant play the Ipod. "But mom. I havent played the Ipod yet this week. WHY CANT I? Etc. Etc. WHINE WHINE WHINE. WHINE WHINE WHINE" until I want to pull my hair out.
But no, he needs that CALM WALL, as I have written about before. But even more he needs to know that this is how it is. It is not any other way. End of discussion. My new tactic is to not acknowledge the whining. Pretend I cant hear him. Or just to quietly walk away, without a word, moving along with my day. WHINE WHINE. I DONT WANT A BATH. I quietly walk into the bathroom, run the water, take him by the hand and lead him in to the room.
As my favorite parenting blog explains (see this article) we go from needing to redirect behavior or model behavior, as we do with younger children, to a more direct need for affirmation of rules, especially boys, who need to see a "captain of the ship" to exemplify this calm confident behavior.
Taking a step back, I look at myself, a ball of tightly wound need-sunshine-and-green-thing emotions. Not a calm, steady captain of the ship. Not at all.
As dada was saying the other night. He is SUCH a complete person, with all these things going on in his little round head. SO MUCH. ALL THE TIME. And we forget this sometimes. And in the general, its so easy to think about parenting as "managing" kids and their emotions. Instead we need to acknowledge everything going on in his little round head. It is big. BIG even. But its okay. We can figure it out, together. A few days ago after getting through another little outburst he wondered out loud to me "Why is there bad in the world?" And before I could muster up an answer he said this, brilliantly. "My brain just gave me the answer. If there wasnt any bad, there wouldnt be any good." True, very and precisely true, and a huge thought for a little man.
He needs affirmation. He needs reassurance. He needs my best, regardless of my mood.
And at night, I go into his room after he is asleep. I push his thick (too long) hair back from his face, adjust his covers, and whisper in his ear, "You are wonderful. You are special. You are so dear to me." And I can only prays that he sees this in himself. That he knows it now and that he grows up knowing it to be true. And yes, he needs me now, but the world is going to be lucky to have him... once he is 35 and I am ready to let him go that is.