This morning as I was watching Joe-Henry in swimming lessons floating on his bright yellow floating noodle, I thought "I have to blog about this. About how yellow is his favorite color, and he's so positive and keeps trying and doesn't feel the least bit bad about being the only one in class that needs an assist from the teacher. I'll start with the bright yellow noodle."
It's true - he is my inspiration, and yesterday when I was huffing and puffing on my bike, I'd put my head down and think "be like Joe-Henry! Don't feel bad about being last, feel great about doing your best! Think YELLOW!", and it got me up the hill. And I do admire the way he tries and tries and keeps trying and honestly never feels bad if he's not first at something. He's always cheering for the other kids, confident in his own stellar self. I feel so proud of him for being exactly who he is.
But then we had the rest of the day, and I'm finding the need to blog about (cue scary organ music)... the other colors in our palette. He's venturing further afield these days, and when he gets close to me, he just has to test the strength of every tie we have. I'm at a loss. Joe-Henry, once the easiest going kid on the planet, is going through something huge, and I feel as though I'm the last person to be able to get him through it. He's going from little kid to slightly bigger kid, and the ways he chooses to navigate it are driving me nuts.
First there's the baby talk. When I tell him not to, he'll say, "it's not baby talk mom, I'm just small and furry". When I ask him why, he says "because I love you!" or "I just am!" He talks in a normal voice to his dad, who seems unfazed by it, possibly because he doesn't get it as often as I do, but it's makes me want to run shrieking from the room.
Then there's this behavior he'll pull when we're with other people. Today he had a playdate, and he would deliberately act out or do something he's not supposed to do, or if I told him not to, he'd do it anyway. It's full on brat behavior, and it completely takes me by surprise. I guess it shouldn't - he's precocious as all get out. I need to be better at follow through, but I'm inevitably thinking of the guest, not wanting to make them uncomfortable, but at the same time, I don't want to wait until they're gone to acknowledge his behavior. For recovering Lutherans, confrontations in public are about as uncomfortable as getting caught naked in public.
The third thing that has me on the brink is his desire for stuff. We can't go to the store without him begging and pleading to get something. The other day he said "I want to go to Grandma and Grandpas! They love me because they buy me stuff and you don't!" I have a difficult time with this. I don't want to take away my in-laws enjoyment - they love to get him goodies - and I believe it's their right to spoil him. But it's at a point where it's not in his best interest and is making him unpleasant to be around. I know it's something he'll grow out of (at least, God, I hope so), and I know he doesn't REALLY think I don't love him, but I don't want him to grow up thinking that "stuff" will make him happy.
We'll figure it all out, and we'll get to the other side of this growth period where everything seems precarious and fraught with the possibility of a tantrum. And he'll return to me, my sweet child, older and wiser and full of love and sweetness. And I'll be a better mom tomorrow than I was today because he's making me take my game to the next level. It is what it is, and I wouldn't ask for anything else.
So the blog that started out to be about yellow, turned out to be about more than one color. That's parenting for you - it's nothing if not colorful.