My 6-year-old can be quite challenging. In his best moments, we can butt heads. When he hasn’t had enough sleep/food/connection, we seem capable only of argument. This morning I was sure was going to feature the latter: he’d had a hard time falling asleep the night before (when I checked on him at 10:15, he stared at me, undoubtedly waiting for me to explode…which I did), he hadn’t had breakfast yet, and we needed to leave for camp. He’d already declared he didn’t want to go because he hadn’t enjoyed it the day before. After a nonsensical conversation about why he had to go today (“I think you have artistic talent and this will give you more ideas about what to create. And we’ve paid for the week, so you’re going.” “I want a different answer!” “I don’t have a different answer.” “Why not?!” Sigh…), I told him we were leaving in 20 minutes and left him in his room to get dressed. I fully expected he would not be ready in the allotted time, especially when we had another nonsensical conversation once he came downstairs: “Ok, buddy, you’ve got about nine minutes to eat before we need to go.” “Stop telling me the time!” “But you need to know how much time you have.” “But I don’t want to know the time!” Smh.
I was girding myself for a fight once he finished his breakfast, and then Lydia interrupted my mental prep: “You count, I hide,” and proceeded to fit herself under the folded over Bob stroller, pretty much disappearing. If I hadn’t seen her scrunch herself into the small space, I might have had a genuinely difficult time finding her–she hid herself really well. But I did, so I had to pretend. Dutifully, as she remained hidden, I counted to 10, and then proceeded to name all the places I was looking. “Is Lydia next to the couch? No… Is Lydia under the couch? No…” And then Teddy joined me. “Is Lydia in the closet? No… Is Lydia behind the chair? No…” And after a reasonable number of wrong guesses, we both turned toward the stroller, and Teddy feigned surprise as he looked at the floor, where his sister was gleefully covering her eyes. “There she is!” he exclaimed, and Lydia squealed and maneuvered back out of confinement. Teddy and I exchanged grins at the ridiculousness of preschool hide-n-seek, and he returned to eating his breakfast.
We enjoyed another couple rounds of play (with Lydia resuming her position under the stroller each time–if it worked the first time, why not try again…and again…and again?) while Teddy finished his oatmeal, and then we got our things together and left for camp.
So many mornings when my initial interaction with Teddy is less than agreeable, I have a hard time recovering. Today I didn’t let my frustration take the reigns. And today I got to enjoy watching him be a fun big brother.
And we even got to camp in time.