What I’ve learned from being a mother is that there are no half measures with kids. It’s either all or nothing, baby. It’s either ALL the sads or ALL the happys. They do stuff, and they do it WELL. Whether it’s throwing a tantrum in a supermarket aisle, or making sure they splash all that water out the tub, or squeezing poor Rocky half to death just to show him JUST how much they love him (I mean a pat on the head would do?) … they are determined little things that truly pour themselves into whatever task is at hand. I’ve enjoyed watching their eyes light up with glee at the simplest of things, and in the same vein I have watched their faces crumble with anger/sadness for the simplest of things. They love hard, but make no mistake, they can unlove quick and fast. This volatile place where children live can be awesome and amazing – man, I wish I could switch from being grumpy to happy because someone promised me an ice cream cone. I wish I wasn’t afraid to tell someone just how MUCH they mean to me, minutes after I’ve just slapped them in the face with a Lego block. And I wish something as simple as blowing a dandelion flower could make me giggle and giggle for hours. It’s bloody marvelous to be a kid.
So when does it stop?
I think we’re getting to that point with Liam. I blogged about how awesome I think he is a few days ago, but this post is more about this age. This 5 year old business is finally feeling like the light on the other side of the parenting tunnel. He is like a small-big-person. And it’s happened so suddenly, that it’s caught me by surprise! By the way, I think a large part of my broodiness (SOOO broody, did I tell you?) comes from the fact that my kids are growing WAY too quickly. Just in the way he acts and reacts. He is way calmer, more relaxed, easier to placate when things don’t go as planned. He doesn’t lose his mind on either side of the spectrum: when he is happy, of course he is happy but that giddiness has eased off, and when he is sad, oh he is sad but the crazy crying has been replaced with quiet little sobs, usually behind his closed door – much like a big person! I haven’t done anything differently, I haven’t told him to MAN UP, it just seems he has matured. His mind is also working over time to understand how things work in the world. And I’m not talking about the manipulation tactic that small children use, I mean he can reason with you and get you to see his point of view and why his way could possibly be better, just by using his words (and often by drawing a picture to go with his words). He is very convincing, I think he may have a future in sales.
With this, has also come fear. Funny how fear accompanies maturity, isn’t it? Small children are so fearless, they have no concept of danger and their innocence is so beautiful to witness. But as Liam’s understanding of the world grows, so does his fear. Suddenly, he is afraid of the dark. Something that was never an issue for us because they’ve slept with the light off since we moved them into their rooms at a few months old. But now, he wants the passage light on. Also, he has lost that bolshy I-can-do-anything-I-please-cos-I’m-the-king-of-the-world over confidence that he used to have. Gone is the little boy who would sing for money, or act a fool because he adored the attention. He has simmered down and not in a bad way. Not in a way that worries me, more in a way that I can only attribute to growing up.
I love THIS Liam just as much, if not more, than baby Liam. I love where our conversations are going, I love listening to his ideas and his philosophies still sprinkled with childlike innocence. Having a small-big-boy in the house is such a pleasure. Somehow I just feel like it’s this golden hour before the scary school years or the testy tween years start. I love that he is still open to hugs and cuddles and hopping on my lap but that he is also very aware that Hannah is the baby and she has first dibs on that – by force of her tantrum, not because we have said so. And he lets her get away with lots of things, just to keep her quiet and believe me, this is a far way off from the screaming matches these two could lock horns over.
We got him something small this weekend to acknowledge this great little person we see emerging. Not to say well done for growing up, but to say “hey, we see you over there being so mature about stuff, testing out this new big-boy business and we think you’re doing great and we’re behind you all the way.” And he smiled that new shy smile that we’ve been seeing often lately. I yelled at him the other day for doing something or the other that he shouldn’t have been doing (he is more mature, but in NO way a saint, let me tell you) and he went off into a quiet sulk – another thing I love about 5, they sulk A LOT but they do it QUIETLY. Ha. And I won’t lie, it was a welcome change. You can be miserable for as long as you like if you do it quietly, thanks. As long as I don’t have to deal with it. He came out eventually much like his old self. He wants me to call him “my little tidy paws” because he has decided he is going to be the tidiest person in the house. Not sure where the “paws” part comes in but I am ALL FOR the tidy part!
So far, 5 has been THE best year! And no, I am not even going to taint that statement by throwing in a “but.” Before the stress of big school hits him, before he starts telling me I’m uncool, before he doesn’t want to be kissed at his classroom door, and while he can still fit onto my lap… I do think I shall enjoy this age for all that it is. As Marcia would say, hashtagthisisfive: