In the last few months, I've discovered that having a five year old is a true revelation. I am certain that all mothers feel vitally bonded with each of their children, and my connections are not exceptional... but the relationship I have with this boy, my first baby, with whom I've shared each and every day of the last five years, feels remarkable. Seeing so many of the quirks, that were trademarked in his infancy and toddlerhood, feed into the personality of this wholly formed and articulate human being, is wildly surreal.
It seems as though I know everything about him, all his sensitivities... how he'll be bold and confident, but then suddenly shrink when confronted with an unfamiliar person or challenge, that when faced with a decision, he will always make the opposite choice first and then self impose a crisis before settling on his second pick, that asking him something head on is the fastest way to make him shut down. I know that he is surprisingly adventurous in exploring the world, climbing high and straying far, but that he can be trusted, always. He never gets himself stuck out on a limb and forever amazes me with how clearly and unconsciously he understands the edges and dangers around him. He's exceptionally tuned into his environment, yet often exceptionally tuned out to the people within it.
In the last five years, I've started to form my own narrative of the person he is, and as I am sure is true of many parents with kids that could be described as 'shy' or 'sensitive', I have also imagined how we will help him navigate the challenges that may emerge as he makes his way through the impending school years...
... So now here is the twist; yes he is shy and sensitive and a loner in many ways, and yes he is a very small kid, scraping the bottom of the height and weight charts since birth... but he is also a wild, silly, social, and increasingly aggressive boy. I have spent so much time imagining how I will defend him against the 'mean kids' of the world, that it's been more than a little disarming this year to get the teacher updates wherein he has pushed an unsuspecting kid, or to hear him make fun of the boys in his class who like princesses and 'girl stuff', or to listen in on the general tone of destruction and violence that prevails over all his imaginative play. I had a few weeks of crisis this past winter where I thought, 'what happened to that sensitive geek I have been raising, and who is this alpha male that's replaced him?!'... I'm sort of kidding. But there's a giant helping of truth in there too.
Lately he seems to have mellowed out some, and I am seeing what I hope to be a healthier balance of wild and sensitive. Still, five has been a big reality check for me. As much as I think I know my child, and with everything that has been ingrained in him since birth and still persists as part of his character, he is obviously finding himself, testing new ideas, growing, and changing constantly... and sometimes radically. I'm bracing myself for decades of surprises from my predictable, routine-loving boy.
*it's been a tough month, but i am still doing this! my sweet and faithful blog readers... this blog is happening this year (but just let me finish out the semester ;)