Friday, August 17, 2012

Growing Pains

Yesterday Chris was being a pain around the house, and I took him out for some "Mommy - Christopher Time" which is what we call it when just he and I go out without Norah and Ben. Right now he is going through some challenges because his body and his emotions are very much appropriate for his age, but his brain is leaping ahead of both of them, analyzing, finding patterns, experimenting, and taking on frightening amounts of vocabulary and scientific principles. There is a mismatch there, and while it has always been there in one way or another, now it is becoming more noticeable to him, and he hates the fact that his brain is somewhat "held back" by his age and size.

He has articulated as much to me, which is another sign that his brain is jumping wildly into the future -- he says things like "I am a big boy, but I am still smaller than some big kids, but I am NOT a baby, and I want to be in charge of the things that I do, and grown-ups always tell me what to do. I am frustrated at being a kid." Yesterday, Norah was having a 2 year-old temper tantrum because she wanted to do something her way, but her way was dangerous. Chris came up and patted her on the back and said, "I know what it's like to be frustrated at being a kid, Norah." So, at least we have empathy on lock-down?

I totally get it. I had almost the exact same frustrations, although I remember it hitting me when I was more like 8 or 9 rather than 4. I hated things that were meant for kids, and I never wanted the same things that other people my age wanted. Chris wants (needs?) desperately to be in charge of something, but he just doesn't have quite enough experience for me to really let him loose on anything major. So I let him be in charge of little things wherever I can, and I am always trying to think of new ways to let him "take the reins." I basically need the 4 year-old equivalent of that thing when you are 14 or 15 and your dad lets you drive the car for a few hundred feet down an empty country road. But what might that 4 year-old equivalent be? I have no idea.

When we arrived home after our field trip (unhurried trip through the ice cream shop/toy store), I had a moment of momgrief. Not long ago at all -- just a few months -- every time we went out for Mommy - Christopher time, Chris would say, "Since it's Mommy - Christopher time, you can carry me!" When he was younger he loved this aspect of M-C time, because Norah spent her first 18 months pretty much in my arms, so he loved having some of that space to himself. Today, almost-five and so much taller than he was even at the beginning of the summer, he didn't say that, and the fresh, baby-bright quality to his voice was gone as well, flown off in the wind. He is taller and gangly, and moody, feeling the corners of his ever-expanding self bumping against the edges of the space the world has hollowed out for him. He is chafing at its boundaries.

My mom-heart aches because I can't fix it all by carrying him to and from the car on an errand anymore, and because I know that feeling, of knowing that everyone around you just sees a child when they look at you, but inside your mind and heart you are twenty feet tall, an invincible universal spirit. They don't understand it, and they won't, for at least fifteen or twenty more years. Being Chris's mom shifts from being his protector and nurturer to being his advocate, like a lawyer for his spirit, making my arguments and presenting evidence, but in the end it is not up to me who wins the case. The force is strong with this one, though. It delights and terrifies me as I see him now in his nascent stage, this seething, electrical ball of potential, shooting off sparks in every direction, sulking in the backseat as we pull up into the driveway.

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