Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Your Six-Year Old: Loving and Defiant

That’s the title of a book I just ordered through the Paperback Exchange because parenthood has blindsided me yet again.

It happened first with breastfeeding. All I ever heard was that it was healthy for my newborn and a great opportunity for us to bond. No one ever told me that for the first six weeks my breasts would burn like fire and feel like I was carrying twice my newborn’s bodyweight from a hammock attached to my nipples. I’m just saying, a little warning would have been nice.

And then there was all that hype was about the terrible two’s. Imagine my surprise when my three-year old son began acting even more terrible after his third birthday. When I mention it now everyone says, “Oh, three is definitely harder than two, especially with boys…” Do we need to hold a press conference or something so we can all agree to a moniker change? For simplicity’s sake, the Terrible Two’s can stay, but maybe we should expand a bit: the Even-Worse Three’s, the Horrible Three’s, or the Threatening Three’s (in order to maintain alliteration). But let’s do something to warn all those unsuspecting mothers around the globe anxiously awaiting third birthdays. We owe it to them.

Now my oldest is six and, as far as I can tell, six seems twice as bad three. His aversion for me is apparent since he has no problem shouting any variation of the following when he doesn’t get his way: “You’re mean, Mom!” “You hate me, Mom.” “You want me to be sad, Mom.” And my least favorite, “I hate you, Mom” which he reserves for the severest occasions. Now you can say all you want about three, but at least then I was still the center of his stratosphere. I didn’t appreciate just how sacred that was. Now I am a gnat on the periphery. And a very loathsome one at that.

So I approached this parenting obstacle like I have any other: I googled it. And after sifting through all the listings (the first of which being the behavioral development of the Humpback Whale. No thanks.), I found the following snippet in the description of Your Six-Year Old by Louis Bates Ames:

The six-year-old is a complex child, entirely different from the five-year-old.Though many of the changes are for the good -- Six is growing more mature, more independent, more daring and adventurous -- this is not necessarily an easy time for the little girl or boy. Relationships with mothers are troubled -- most of the time Six adores mother, but whenever things go wrong, it's her fault. It used to be, at Five, that she was the center of the child's universe; now, the child is the center of his own universe.


Again, a little heads-up would’ve been nice.

So my oldest child has reached a development stage that’s taken him further from me than any other. And it’s breaking my heart. In those moments when my Six adores me, I hold him tight, ruffle his hair, and kiss his cheeks, afraid there will soon come a time when he won’t even let me do that. Thankfully there’s a glorious reprieve; at unexpected moments he’ll say, unprompted, “I love you, Mom.” And I swear it’s like the sun is breaking through the clouds to the tune of a hallelujah choir. I don’t mind being knocked from the center of his universe. He can be the sun now, and I’ll take pleasure circling him for the rest of my life.

But he is so grounded for all those other things he said.

16 comments:

Slackermommy said...

That last paragraph is absolutely beautiful!

Anonymous said...

You have scared me almost completely from breast feeding. That sounds extremely painful. Denise

Donna's Daughter said...

Good post! Funny and touching. But I have to tell you that warning doesn't really help. Everyone knows that teenagers are the worst, yet when my oldest started acting like a teenager it was still shocking and heart breaking. We were partners, then suddenly I was a perpetual annoyance. Luckily the surprising "I love You!" still comes my way, and we get to have the occasional late night conversation about life. I still remember being on the teenage side of those!

shauna said...

Denise, I shouldn't say stuff like that to scare aspiring breastfeeders away. If it makes you feel better, most of the women I've talked to haven't had such a difficult time with it, but for some reason the first six weeks are extremely painful for me. That and I usually get mastitis a time or two. Argh. But once I get over that speedbump it's smooth suckling. And it really can be a neat way to connect with your baby.

Anonymous said...

Your post was hilarious! And so true. Oh, I had forgotten how fun six year olds are! Sad day, my little princess will soon be a tyrant. Sigh. But it does pass. Seven is usually quite nice. And Eight. I found Nine to be quite a pain, but 10-12 were very good. Then 13 to 18 is just all one big nasty hormone laced bad trip. Then if you're lucky they move out and produce grandchildren for you to spoil rotten and send back to them sugared up and devoted to Grandma no matter what their age happens to be.

Mary

Gustogirl said...

Oh Girl, I feel your pain. My 6 year old has really had a major attitude shift since school released for the Summer. I can relate to everything you said(except Kate hasn't told me that she hates me yet luckily. I think that will break my heart). I try to remember that I am the adult and I can't let my feelings dictate my actions, because then we would be in a worse situtation. Good luck with your 6 year old.

LikeAstaR said...

OH no... JJ cannot grow up.. what will I do??

shauna said...

Gustogirl, that's exactly when it happened with Kaleb--after school let out. And sometimes I find myself getting frustrated, but lately it just makes me sad (especially when he says the dreaded "I hate you," although it's only happened twice so far). Like you said, I remind myself that I'm the parent and act accordingly.

Parenthood is a tough gig!

Erin said...

Eli and Rory are in the "I hate Mom club" when they are in time out. But I realize that they don't understand exactly what it means. We're working on it. Oh yeah, and doing time outs where I can't hear what they're saying!

Erin said...

I should probably add that their "I love you, Mom"s heavily outweigh the other. You know, like 50 to 1. So its okay for now.

Absolutely Bananas said...

what? I won't be the center of his universe FOREVER?! Why didn't anyone TELL ME?????

shauna said...

I knew it would happen eventually. I just wasn't expecting it to be this soon... *sigh*

myminivanisfasterthanyours said...

I love this post so much, although Crusher's turning three this fall, so I'm moving. Without him. Thanks for the head's up!

BTW I liked your entry about girl's clothes. Said as I'm sitting here in cut-off sweats and my fancy Old Navy tee that I like cuz it's looong!!

Mert said...

I just googled :what to do when your 6 year old child says "I hate you"...

Because my 6 year old aughter just told me this minutes ago. I'm very upset. I know to a certain degree it is normal. But it doesn't syop the hurt. I am definitely going to check out the book you mentioned... I need all the help I can get!

Also, I was pleasantly surprised to see a few of the ladies I know in your comments. :D

Andrea Frazer - Pass the Zoloft said...

Ha ha ha! I just posted about this book at my BabyCenter blog and then saw your blog in the Google lists so here I am. Nice post.

Jenn said...

I have a defiant daughter that will be six next month. I thought she was the only child with the bad behaviour, until I started doing some reading and found out that they all go through it! Whew! I'll definitely be grabbing this book somewhere. This was my first time on your blog, thanks for the post!

Jennifer