Lead The Way

Giant toddler, pointing at his baby picture, attempting to fit into his Ergo infant insert.
Giant toddler, pointing at his baby picture, attempting to fit into his Ergo infant insert.

He’s a big boy. He’s a baby. He’s everywhere in between.

After the shoe week, we had five whole days of bliss. Happy kid. Healthy. Good listening. Peaceful sleep.

Last Friday morning, unprovoked, he pushed two kids at soccer. Hard. I took him off the field, and the rest of the day was rocky. We talked about the pushing all weekend, and when asked why he did it, he said, “I’m a big, strong soccer player!” He didn’t seem to get that this is not something big soccer players do. Then he pushed an old man with a dog on Sunday (?!), and on Monday, he went up to a little girl at the park, who was minding her own business, and yelled in her face. Then another little girl came up to me and plainly said, “He is bad and I don’t like him.”

I hate the park.

When this behavior crops up with strangers, he does not seem angry at all. Rather, he’s trying to connect, and he’s going about it in this super alpha, chest puffed out, loud voice kind of way. Like the boy who punches the girl he likes in the arm.

I went in to cottage time and explained to the teachers what was happening and to check in to see if they’d observed any of this behavior. They hadn’t, although the previous Thursday (day before the soccer shoves) Ian spent 4 hours instead of the usual 2 at cottage time, and there was an older boy there who had challenged Ian a few times. Light bulb. He’s mimicking.

I was happy that he illustrated what I had explained to them beautifully as soon as we got there. He picked up a dinosaur, put it directly in a little girls face and yelled, “Roar!” I got to witness the expert teachers in action (I love cottage time). They calmly checked in with Ian and the girl, asking her if she liked that, and having her tell Ian directly that she didn’t like it, and maybe Ian could ask before he does that, and maybe he could have the dinosaur roar to another dinosaur. No drama. No mom glares or girls with sparkly shoes telling me my kid is rotten.

I know all this shit is normal, but when I go to Whole Foods and see the little boy sitting quietly in the cart, holding two greeting cards (that he is NOT throwing or crumpling or trying to open so he can lick the envelope), I’m a little (a lot) jealous.

We made some executive decisions today. One, no more soccer for awhile. This is not a punishment (he hasn’t been into it lately), rather we feel this may not be the best time for him to be playing a team contact sport (duh). We’ll wait and work him back in once he can self-regulate and listen a bit easier. Two, more cottage time. We’re thinking he’ll go four or five days a week (for two hours each day). We’re thinking the structure and the support will be good for both of us.

As for me, I’m actively working on flipping my dark and stormy script. I’ve asked for help and I’m letting myself receive it. In my heart, I understand that I’ve been blessed with a vibrant, passionate kid who is my greatest teacher. I’m willing to be willing to give up trying to figure out the phases and stages and reasons why, and most importantly, I’m willing to be willing to believe that no matter how many mistakes Ian and I make, we are still worthy of love and allowed to take up space in the world.

There will always be hard moments. And there will be moments like this.

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