This face says it all. Over the last 6 weeks my parenting skills have been put to the test. Some days I fail, but most days I think we are succeeding...although I can hardly let myself even get to the point of feeling like maybe, just maybe we are turning a corner...because then it inevitably all comes crashing down. I have come to believe that just like the age two is always described as terrible, the age of five could be described as ferocious, frightful, fierce, fiendish or foul.
It all started when he was technically five and a half. So far into 5, I thought we avoided the power struggle all together. Not so. Instead, I think it was just festering & building strength. Like a volcano ready to erupt. And erupt he has. It all started with the beginning of kindergarten. Oddly enough, I'm not even sure what he is fighting. If there is a creature of habit, it is him. He thrives in a routine, so you think school would be a breeze. But maybe the routine of it isn't the problem...maybe instead it is the lack of independence. The constant barrage of direction. If we can relate on anything, he & I, it is that we do not like to be told what, how, when & where to do things.
And so, after 6 hours of being told what, how, when & where to do things, he comes home a volcano. Today it took precisely 2 minutes and 11 seconds before he was huffing & puffing, stomping & slamming. The muscles in his neck get tight. His fists ball up. His words are spit out in pure frustration.
All over which snack to have after school. You can imagine his reaction when the answer is just, 'no.' Not pretty.
Then he swings the other way. Doesn't want to leave the house to play at friends. Doesn't want to go to his church class, wants to go everywhere with me. Tears. Tears. and more tears. I swear he & his sister just switched places & it has thrown me for a loop.
He is using up all my resources. I've loved him. I've used positive reinforcement. I've threatened him & carried through on my threats. And nada.
Still lots of back talk. Lots of frustration. Lots of tears. And lots of rottenness.
And frankly, I find myself missing my little boy who was always my buddy.
I don't pretend to be a perfect parent. His behavior will surely indicate that. But I will say I am a very deliberate parent. Painfully so at times. I will fight the fight if it needs fighting & I will also stand back & watch the fall. With him, it is usually stand back & watch the fall. He learns best by making his own choices & then suffering the natural consequences & so, I have to stand back & watch.
But knowing it is best, doesn't make it any easier.
Tonight he had pushed to the limits & so dad was handling bedtime, while I took care of the baby. As I was feeding him & trying to decompress from the day, Zack came bounding in. Before he could hardly get a word out I was ordering him out of Max's room. But his excitement bubbled over has he exclaimed, "No mom. I have some very exciting news." His whole body was alive with jubilation.
Still annoyed with the interruption, I asked, "what?"
Only to have him giggle with glee that he had a loose tooth.
I pulled, I wiggled & it jiggled.
He was ecstatic. I was shocked.
He was thrilled. I was in despair.
How could this possibly be? How did this happen? He is way too little to be loosing teeth.
But it is here. He will be toothless in our Christmas pictures & by summer he will have teeth bigger than his head.
I cannot believe it is happening.
I rejoiced with him & pretended I couldn't have been happier. And then scuttled him off to bed & went back to rocking my baby, who is crawling at 5 months & will probably be walking tomorrow & talking back the next day.