Tuesday, February 19, 2013

You Turn Around, and It's Time To Let Them Go

I'm feeling a little sentimental tonight. I don't know if it's because some of my younger friends are having either their first or second babies and it's bringing back memories, or because my parents are now both retired and when I see them they seem so well-rested and happy and appreciative of one another and it's just all so well-deserved, or because I just listened to a beautiful, moving song by Band of Horses (Detlef Schrempf), or because Adam is going to kindergarten next fall. We went to his registration tonight, and we're going to have a school-ager next year. This is monumental for our little family because this? This doesn't seem all that long ago, really.

So tiny! And so alert!
Nothing more sexy than a good dad.
Baby toes!!
Our cherub.

It's funny how elementary schools change but don't really change much at all. There aren't chalkboards anymore (today's teachers have smartboards), but there are still little drinking fountains, little chairs, little coat hooks in the halls, messy classrooms, colorful construction paper all over the walls, evidence everywhere of innocence and positive energy and hopes and dreams that know no boundaries. When you're removed from it, you forget how magical it is.

Our soon-to-be kindergartener is at a very fun and very frustrating stage. It's frustrating because he's all about pushing his boundaries and limits ... and even though I know I should just ignore him when he's deliberately pushing my buttons, or speak "gently and quietly" and remove him from the situation when he's having a temper tantrum (aren't kids supposed to outgrow those?), it's ridiculously hard to ignore that  behavior when it's coming from an otherwise very intelligent 5.5 year old who knows better than to act like that, or speak in a gentle tone when what I really want to do is scream. I know he knows his behavior is unacceptable, and he's remorseful afterwards, but for the 5 minutes that he's acting up, it's extremely frustrating to know how to discipline him in the most effective way.  Yesterday he had three "pushing boundaries" episodes. Once when I made him stop playing a computer game ("You're SO MEAN! I like Dad better than you!"), once when he was hell-bent on knocking down a snowman we had made with my parents at their house even though both my dad and I asked him not to (he didn't), and once when it was time to leave a fast-food restaurant playland ("I hate you!"). Already with the hurtful 'hate you'? Ouch. Dear Hormonal Teenage Girl, please give me back my sweet, sensitive son. Thank you.

We named her Frostina.

It's fun because Adam is a sponge, soaking up knowledge. He loves numbers (his favorite game right now is the card game War), and regularly asks to do "homework" in his math and spelling workbooks (will he actually like doing homework next year? Or does he just like it now because it's not required learning?). He can count by tens and can count past 100 and is learning his letters and sight words and comes home with facts like "water and oil don't mix" and "the sun is a star" and it's going to be so cool when he starts reading. He has an excellent memory, he's very interested in people and remembers names (even the names of my friends' pets!), and in a lot of ways he thinks the same way I think (except for his love of math and numbers, that's all Aaron). He has a big heart and is very empathetic. He still gets scared easily, but bedtime is becoming less and less of a battle. He likes Star Wars and Flat Stanley and has three girlfriends, Avery, Autumn, and Annika, all older women between the ages of 8 and 11. He likes to help Aaron shovel, likes to play outside, likes to throw snowballs and rough-house and act like a typical boy ... and yet he is soft, sensitive, raw in many ways. He is an old soul who, according to author Sheryl Paul, "lives with an exposed heart, aware of the fleeting nature of life and the noble truth that things are always shifting, changing, dying." (It's true, too, he worries about loss and change more than any 5-year-old ever should.) He still brings a laminated photo of Aaron and I to preschool every day, and keeps it in his pants pocket for when he feels homesick. He wears a friendship bracelet from Annika, who bought it for him at the State Fair last year, and a Star Wars watch from Grandma Patti. He doesn't care (or notice?) that no one else in his class wears jewelry, and I love that he's doing his own thing. He likes to collect money and stickers and marbles and still sorts his toys, moving them from one Lunds shopping bag into the next room, unloading the pile and returning for more, trip by trip. He thinks football is boring, but can't wait to play t-ball again this summer (still on the fence about soccer). He sings in the car when he's happy. He really wants to get a dog and asks about it at least once a week. He is very timid when he first meets someone new, but once he decides he likes that person, he or she has a faithful friend for life. He gets a big smile on his face when he sees me at preschool at the end of the day, runs up to me, throws his arms around me, and voluntarily holds my hand as we walk together to his locker. It is the best welcome ever. He creates beautiful, colorful paintings and pictures, loves playing Legos, could play Star Wars games on our computer for hours (if we let him), is addicted to playing a biking game on Aaron's iPhone, and really got into Wii boxing and bowling (ok, he's only played three times—always at Julie and JT's house—but he was a natural!). He likes swimming lessons, but is very serious when he's in the pool. He's so intent on listening and following directions that he won't even look at me or smile, but then tells me he can't wait to go back to swimming lessons next weekend. He makes me laugh when he's being goofy (the newest is knock-knock jokes with silly punchlines that don't make any sense), he makes me feel proud when he's being a helpful big brother, he makes my heart swell when he's being sweet and thoughtful, he makes me stop and think and appreciate the simple things that we sometimes forget to notice as busy adults. (Kids are good for that.) He is truly one of the loves of our lives. We still have a few more months before kindergarten starts, but we're ready. Good things are in his future, I just know it.

Best friends