Friday, January 23, 2015

Lest anyone reading this blog get the idea that we are living a lovely life of miraculous achievement and progress - wonder parents and our brilliant child - let's talk about the whole lotta "NO" going on these days.

When I used to teach creative dramatics and Shakespeare in the schools, there were two grades I hated to work  with - third and sixth.  I hated teaching them, because it just sucks to be them.

Being 8 is awful.  New thoughts, new physical and mental skills are forming, and yet (usually), the emotional maturity lags - a lot.  This leads to very strong ideas about what they want to do and zero ability to handle the inevitable dissapointments of overreach, or even a simple, "no."  Just as things even out from 4th through about the middle of 5th grade, hormones kick in and all hell breaks loose again.  I have seriously wished for a giant bucket of ice water to fall from the sky on a class full of 8 yr. olds in full booger mode.  Remember, the series "South Park" started them in 3rd grade!  As for 6th graders, I'd like to ship them off to an island somewhere and let them sort it out, "Lord of the Flies" style then pick up the survivers at 17.

Liam is very, VERY 8 right now.  He's more excited about and engaged in new things than I've ever seen him and he is not happy about not getting to do more of whatever strikes his fancy.  We both end up saying "no" a lot more often.  To the point where I have dubbed myself the "Queen of NO."

What's usually a normal part of parenting a kid, is complicated by the inablility to negotiate effectively or understand "squishy" time.  By squishy, I mean expressions like, "later,"  or "maybe tomorrow" or even "after lunch."  These times aren't fixed, and while Liam may be willing to put something off, he wants a definite ETA.  And then, sometimes, "no" is just "no."  No - you can't change the system preferences on Grandma's computer.  No - you can't lay on the cat.  Don't eat boogers.  Just - no.

Yes, I'm a typical parent in that I get annoyed when my kid says "no" to my face.  But, I'm also doing a little happy dance inside, knowing that he's learned to voice his objection, instead of throwing the computer mouse, biting his hand or pitching a royal kicking, screaming fit on the floor.  Sometimes, he still does, but more and more he'll say "no" or "I'm not finished yet" or "I don't WANT to do that."  Then we can work on whether the moment is negotiable or not.  He is slowly learning that "later" doesn't mean "never,"  it just means "not now."  "Not now" still sucks when you're 8, but it's a tiny, tiny key to mastering executive functioning (something every 8 yr. old struggles with and reason 112 why it sucks to be them).

Liam waited a full 2 days to do more clay art.  In between, we went back to his old school for an after-school art program and did a cool Picasso mask on a paper bag.
He is ASKING for more art.  I love it.  Here is our growing collection of drying clay sculpture.

The good ones are his.  Am I good at clay?  No.  Does it matter?  No!

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