Last week was trying. Nothing that will go down in the record books- nothing dramatic or even all that memorable. It was just challenging because... well, life's that way. We struggle as we grow and as things change, and that's what keeps it interesting.
Our 'little guy' is 7 years old now. His problems used to be so simple. Most bad behaviors could either be blamed on him being tired, or hungry, or possibly a small child who thought he ought to be the boss of everyone. If it couldn't be fixed by a snack or a nap, it was a time out. That was pretty much it. Now he's maturing and his motivations are getting to be so much more complex. His world is getting bigger and he's experiencing a new array of choices and incentives and he demonstrates no fear when testing out the different options. When he does make a poor choice, we are faced with the dilemma of figuring out what to do about it. Time outs don't cut it anymore, baby.
Last week I watched him watch me try to figure it out. He's a lot of things, but he's not unkind. He cares about how his actions affect me- even if he doesn't consider it ahead of time. I saw him feel ashamed of himself, and I didn't feel good about that. When I lost my temper with him, I apologized for it. I didn't realize, though, how closely he's able to observe subtle social cues or how much he thinks about them. Sometimes I am keenly aware of my children watching me, and I plan my reaction carefully- like when they present me with a gift or show off an achievement- but other times I am completely caught off guard.
When we were eating dinner Thursday night he said something goofy and I gave him the raised-eyebrow, half smirk look. He looked at me thoughtfully and said, "When you look at me like that, it kinda looks the same as when you're mad at me. But I know you're not." I'm sure he's not so attentive all the time, but I was surprised by his observation. Also, I was impressed by the way he communicated it.
He's always lagged a little behind in language, he didn't get much practice during the first 3 years of his life. He's been evaluated more than once, but the consensus has always been that he was simply a little delayed due to his early-in-life-circumstances, and in time he would catch up. It's never really been a barrier to his learning or development. I have noticed in the last year, however, that as his emotions and mental processes have gotten more complex he's really had to push himself to be able to talk about it. It often takes him a while to get a sentence out- he really has to think to put the words together to express himself. He's doing it, though, and now more than ever I have no question in my mind that eventually he will speak as clearly as anyone else.
As I write I realize, this is simply a moment in time I am taking to stop and marvel at my son. I feel like I'm suspended in a brief moment of clarity, where I can see him and me, our connection, our past and our future. I feel lucky for the trouble- just for the chance to participate. It might be difficult and stressful and aggravating at times, but it's life-altering. It's amazing. It's worth it. Like I said, I feel lucky.
P.S. This morning he and Dear got up early and attempted to make us scrambled eggs and hash browns (with sweet potatoes, on accident.) How endearing and Hallmark-commercial-y is that?