Thursday, March 21, 2013

Dear Big-Kid-Hood


Dear Big-Kid-Hood,

Just like that, you've snatched my baby and placed him among his new peers on your Playground.  I think he'll like his new promotion, though it might take me a little while to get used it. 

My little guy just turned six.  The little one, our Family Caboose, my Baby.  This one felt hard for me.  Five is still little, still wide-eyed with trace amounts of baby fat left on parts of a growing body.  But six?  Six is brimming on the the verge of Big-Kid-Hood.  Six is the beginning of spending more time in school than at home.  Six is when Independence becomes the majority of support beams of Oneself.

Six is the end of Little.

Goody bag assembly
This past weekend seemed like a huge blur to me.  They always do when there's an event that takes lots of planning and work on top of other regularly scheduled ones.  Since much of the party details had begun over the last week, I wanted to be able to relax and do our Friday Thang: movie and a drink--and it was a beer kind of Friday for me.  That I had most of a beer and stayed up for the entire movie was as miraculous as spring actually arriving on time in my part of the world (zzzzzzzzzzzz).  Then, Saturday began with Dear Daughter performing a violin concert at a local hospital grand opening, followed by my trips to the store and library for my Chinese School lesson the next day.  Cake making began at 5 PM (since Dear Son's trip to the ER from his peanut allergy, I'm taking no more chances, especially on his birthday).  By the time all the cupcakes and cake were made and frosted, the food prepped and packaged, the birthday banner made and rolled, the party bags stuffed and labeled, the partyware gathered and packed, and surprise door streamers hung and smiling, it was 1:30 Sunday morning.

And just like that, my baby turned six.

Surprise birthday streamers
There used to be a time when I could not understand why when I kindly said hello to some children, they would ignore me, not respond, and just look away.  I never had issues saying hello back to grownups when I was a kid, so I had a hard time relating to these kids and wished that they would just accept my greeting as my reaching out to make a connection.  Until Dear Husband gently reminded me that DS responds to people greeting him the exact same way.  I had just never made that connection because he's my child.  (Talk about my own child teaching me the meaning of empathy).  Consequently, we have been talking about this with DS, and that it is polite to answer back when people we know (not strangers) say hello.  DH and I worried about DS being taken the wrong way.  He's really not like that, we'd say to ourselves quietly.  He's a great kid with a kind heart, we'd plug for him under our breaths.  So the day before his party, DH reminded him that when people tell him "happy birthday" or say hello to him, he really should respond to show that he's glad that his friends came to celebrate with him.  And as we watched him from afar on that day, he really tried.  DS waved, smiled, and said, "thank you."  Quietly, timidly, and obligingly.

And just like that, my baby turned six. 

Mmmmm, frosting
And along with the process of growing up, children begin to gain more awareness of self and their surroundings.  DS is still working on leaving behind some Little Kid behaviors, and we know it's tough, since he's the youngest in the family.  Birth order can certainly make a difference in one's personality, and we as parents try to help minimize the undesirable characteristics as well as hope to take advantage of the strengths of a youngest child.  There are times when DD gets the short end of the stick just because she is older (but we explain to her that these are due to age-related developmental stages that DS is going through), and there are times when DS must understand that he doesn't get his way just because he is younger (and we discuss equality and what is fair).  At home, he is still quick to show displeasure during transitions, especially when he's not ready to move on.  With lots of reminding and explaining and reasoning and conversing, we are directing DS to think, use his words, and be more aware of his impulsive reactions and their appropriateness, or lack thereof.  Today, he asked me proudly, "Mama, is my behavior better today than yesterday?" full well knowing the answer, because he genuinely heard my words and tried to improve. 

And just like that, my baby turned six.

My Personal Report Card
During Parent-Teacher Conference this week, DS' teacher showed me his "Personal Report Card," where students gave themselves an evaluation in different areas.  I had done this before when I taught first and second graders, and the purpose of this is for students to think introspectively about their work and effort--and one can tell a lot about a child from his or her evaluation of self.  Out of six questions (in the areas of Reading, Math, Writing, Follow Directions, Homework, Do Best Work), DS only chose the best category for three of them, leaving the other three for the "okay" category.  While both his teacher and I thought he could have chosen the "great" category for all the questions, he didn't.  And our interpretation of this Personal Report Card is that DS is very hard on himself.  Other points raised in the conference indicated to me that he may over-think things, which could be both beneficial and disadvantageous.  This can allow him to be a critical and analytical thinker, but can also potentially bog him down with various troubling thoughts.  Part of me wishes that he had just circled the "best" category for all the questions because he deserved every bit of that credit, but part of me is proud (in a sort of heavyhearted way) that he wants to push himself even more.

And just like that, my baby turned six.

During many a Motherhood Moments did I wish that the nightfeedings would be over, the potty-training phase be done, the separation anxiety cease, the constant neediness stop, and the perfectionist tears halt.  Now they mostly have, but this fickle mom looks back and feels strangely nostalgic yet deliriously happy that we've come this far.  (So happy that I've almost forgotten what it's like to be sleep-deprived, thus taking many a days to recover from my two late-nights-in-a-row this past weekend; I've found new meaning to the words, "can't hang.") 

So, Dear Big-Kid-Hood, I look forward to seeing DS explore and have fun on your Playground, where he will continue to grow and walk in the halls of elementary school and in the second half of his First Decade.  There is so much to discover ahead, and he's plowing straight into the thick of it all.

And just like that, my baby turned six.

As I pull the zoom lens on my camera back from the birthday party to normal view, I see that it is still just another day in our full and ordinary life.  And I am thankful for the blessing of every second of it. 

Happy Sixth Birthday to my Baby.

Sincerely,
Me


12 comments:

  1. It's amazing, a blink of an eye and they're 6 already! I also feel like 6 is a big turning point, like so much more grown up than 5. But like you said at the end, look how far you've all come. And so much to look forward to. Glad he could enjoy his party.

    As for the self report card, I kinda like that he didn't select "best" for each. Maybe he sees room for improvement. I like a child that is self-motivated to improve, and not one who thinks he's got it all figured out already. I mean, he is only 6 and his personality still developing.

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    1. Hi, Lisa! Maybe you're right and he thinks there's still room for improvement for some areas while he's sure he does his best in others. I am glad that he really thought about it. Later, after hearing what his teacher and I said about his good work, he wanted to change his answers--but I reassured him that his answers were just fine and that he does do very well in all the those areas, which made him very happy. It's amazing how we parents' joys ride on every coattail of our kids' emotions and accomplishments! :) Thanks so much for your thoughts!

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  2. Happy Birthday Big Kid! And here's a cheer for you, too, Sandra. This is a big time, the 2nd half of the 1st decade, as you know from your daughter, there is so much growing and developing and becoming he has to do.

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    1. Thank you, Cindy, for your two big cheers for us! There really is so much more to look forward to, and I have to work on seeing him as a "big kid." He has a small build, unlike DD who is tall for her age, so he doesn't look like a 6yo. I have to make sure I continue to nurture his independence, which is not easy for this mama cuz he's the baby of the family. :)

      Hope you're getting some warm weather where you are! Happy Spring!

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  3. What a beautiful post for your son. It made me tear up a little that's for sure. Happy Birthday to your big kid. :)

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    1. Awww, thanks so much for reading, Susi! I'm so glad you can relate--we mamas have such common emotions for our kiddos, that's for sure, too! Thanks for the birthday wish!

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  4. Cupcakes look great. One day I will make cupcakes like that ... when the neediness and clinginess subside.

    Couldn't agree more about "And just like that, my baby turned six". Mine has been 6 for about 4 months now, and 6 is so "grown-up" compare to 5. We can both look forward to the second half of the decade for our big kids ... I imagine it to be a fun ride.

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    1. Thanks, Tran! I thought about--only for a short moment--making each cupcake into a Beyblade, and then realized how crazy that idea was, and threw it right out the door as soon as DS said he wanted those cupcake rings. Win-win.

      I'm getting more used to DS having so many more of his own opinions and thoughts now. Before he'd just listen to whatever I said. I think that era might be over. But fun we will have! How do we not feel older and older as our kiddos get bigger and bigger?? :)

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  5. What a super sweet tribute to your son. Sounds like he's a wonderful kid!

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    1. Thanks, Nilsa! I think he's a great kid, but I'm VERY biased. But I guess that's our exclusive right as parents to feel this way, right? ;) Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. I'm late to the party (seems to be my M.O. lately) but I hope it was a happy one for your kiddo. I can relate to the sentiments in this post. Each birthday is bittersweet to me; I'm proud that they are growing up and are learning to be more self-sufficient...but I'm a little sad when they become more self-sufficient. I know, can't have it both ways. (My baby turned seven a couple months ago. )

    On a separate note, how you describe your son greeting (or not greeting others) is exactly how my older son is. It takes nudging, whispering in his ear, or giving him "the look" to get him to respond - even when it's other kids saying hi to him. I've tried to tell myself that maybe it's just 'cause he's embarrassed that I'm with him, but it's horrifying to think that's the way he is all the time!

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    1. Hi, Janna, I think your kids are just slightly older than my two, so it's easy for me to remember their ages. Yes, their growing older is such an ambivalent thing for me. It certainly doesn't make us feel any younger, does it?

      As far as the quiet behaviors of our kids, I just hope that they will open up more at some point. They will probably always be on the quiet side in front of strangers, but maybe they will be more sociable with people they know. I know that DS acts differently when I'm around, and I hear that he's more talkative with his friends at school, so perhaps it has to do with us being there, too. I think it's one thing to be quiet and another to be rude, and I don't think that either of our kids are being intentionally rude, so that's a good thing to remember, too. :)

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