|and yes, that is a bloody nose|
My little boy is six today. He’s growing up fast, and I’m more and more proud of him every day.
I still remember a little too clearly last year, after one of his meltdowns, sitting on the floor outside his bedroom door while he kicked the other side repeatedly, mad about something that hadn’t gone his way. There was already a giant hole in the door where he’d put a baseball bat through it a few days earlier (when his little fists wouldn’t do the job) and he had two black eyes from a few other rough days. I’d run out of ideas about how to stop him from swearing. Yes, my tiny little four-year-old had a profanity problem. He wasn’t just saying bad words to get a reaction out of me. He was using them in context and would then cringe and look around when he’d realized what he’d done because he knew he’d be in trouble if I was in earshot. And that rage...a few weeks later he had to sit out a quarter in his soccer game when he lost his temper and started throwing punches.
I sat outside that door, listening to the tiny feet pounding on the other side, wondering what the hell I was supposed to do next. Where were he and I going to be when he was 14 if I couldn’t even help a four-year-old keep himself under control? My decade of experience parenting boys, my dozen years working with all sorts of preschoolers in professional settings, all that child psychology stuff they made me read in college to get my education degrees...none of it was helping me.
But Zoran’s already figuring it out. As I watch him, sometimes I can actually see how physically difficult it is for him to keep all his huge feelings contained in such a small little body. I think sometimes I get so involved in sorting out what I need to figure out as a parent I forget how hard it is at times to figure out how to be a kid.
Zoran’s reactions to everything are instant and intense. I don’t think that’s ever going to change. I am really beginning to hope it doesn’t. He’s probably always going to have to figure out ways to manage his temper, but he’s already doing that. He did “quit” a few times in soccer practice this year, but only a few. Both times he just walked away. No big scenes. No attacking anyone else. No interrupting the rest of the game. During lunch last month I overheard him telling one of the little kids, “I used to cuss when I was little. Back when I was four. But I’m bigger now and grown up so I don’t do that anymore.” And I don’t think he does.
I think I’m getting a little better at being his mom, too. I used to be so worried about potential blowups and meltdowns I wasn’t noticing how amazing it is that he is so immediately present and invested and excited about whatever is happening in front of him. I brought home a movie he wanted to see this summer and he ran up and gave me a huge hug and said “You are the best Mom ever! I love you so, so much!!” It was more excitement and gratitude than any of my other kids would have shown if I’d told them I was taking them on vacation for a month. He gets angry quickly, but he's overcome with happiness just as fast. He is cuddly and affectionate. And his personality is perfect for sports. Watching him compete is so much fun. He plays with more intensity and awareness of the game than almost anyone of any age I’ve ever known. He’s there to win and he’s going to give it everything he has to make it happen.
Always present in the moment, always 100%. If Zoran’s with you, you know it. He’s not fading into the background. The more I get to know him, the more I admire him. If he lives this boldly at six, I’m becoming more and more excited to see what 14 will look like.