Thing 2 got out of line this past weekend in some words he used. We've noticed his experimentation with language when he is upset has grown more colorful in the last two months. It would be more fun to blame it on a grandfather or the fact that he listened to much of Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand on CD while we were travelling over the holidays, but it's more likely that he just wants to see what happens when a few words fly. The first round brought a conversation, the next round brought the removal of a favorite item/activity, and this last round (directed specifically at Big Man and myself) brought the immediate revocation of an entire afternoon of fun with a friend.
Listen, I don't want to have a conversation on parenting techniques. We all do the best we can, we do what works for us, or we limp and grasp at straws for the one little thing that seems to make a bit of difference so we thought this might make a dent in the message we were trying to send.
What makes parenting hard is this: Big Man got the fun role of hanging with Thing 2 during what we dubbed THE LONGEST AFTERNOON EVER. But when I arrived home, I was shocked to feel an almost pleasant vibe in the home. Big Man shrugged his shoulders when I looked at him and then he pulled me into the kitchen.
"Listen," he said. "Thing 2 started singing in his room When he came out for a snack I asked how he was. He said he was fine. He didn't care. I said, you don't care about what? He said I don't care about my play date. And if I don't care about my play date then it's not punishment. And then he went back to his room to sing. He has been downright pleasant all afternoon."
We know he cared, but what we can't figure out is how he arrived at this way of dealing with such disappointment. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and Big Man has to mentally shut down/check out in times of distress.
Later in the day as I was folding laundry in the hovel we call our laundry room, Thing 2 clearly went out of his way to find me. Without a word he walked in, gave me a hug and left.
Much later in the day, Big Man said he was so glad there were two of us to raise Thing 2. Thing 1, despite being a female tween, is predictable. Thing 2? Not so much. His sometimes sophisticated brain baffles Big Man. It baffles me too, but I am used to being stymied by basic math, people, and life in general. I wander about much more at ease with my uncertainty. But Big Man is smart and gets paid to give people advice and identify solutions to innumerable problems. Poor guy. I think we can all agree parenting has far more problems than solutions.
So this is why parenting is hard. I thought I got my kid, but I didn't.
For now I will go back to wringing my hands while offering up prayers, burning incense, consulting the astrological calendar, and may even consider witchcraft (the happy, positive, in-the-name-of-good kind) all in the hopes that everything, especially my Things, will turn out just fine.