I've mentioned before that Geoff and I have been having a much tougher time than usual with our five-year-old recently...he's been 'testing the waters' a lot in the past couple of months. Things have been gradually improving but it feels like the old three-steps-forward-one-step-back kind of situation.
We regressed a step on Monday - it was a rough day.
By way of context...
I've been quite determined, in the past several months, to engage Matthew increasingly in cleaning up after himself. He hates it (don't we all!) and it doesn't seem to get much easier as time passes. On Monday, during several challenging hours when we battled out the clean-up issues, he went into full temper tantrum mode - flat on his back on the floor, screaming and wailing. Unlike when he was two, his tantrums now also include a full spectrum of speech intended to prove to me that he is the victim of the world's greatest injustices. I get exhausted at times just listening to him and trying to respond appropriately. Anyway, he was having a time out in the bathroom, door open, with me sitting three feet away on the floor, just outside of the bathroom. I was calm, kind, empathetic even...and very determined that this would be a good learning opportunity....blah blah blah blah blah.
Sigh. All of those good intentions for learning opportunity.... My resolve was interrupted suddenly when I watched Matthew creep across the floor towards me, still wailing. He lay down again...this time with his head on my lap. In that one moment, my heart melted and my eyes filled with tears. My beautiful, intelligent, strong-willed little boy who longs at times to grow up and be independent, needed the security and comfort of his mama...far more than he needed her resolve. I reached down and stroked his hair with one hand and rested my other hand on his shoulder; and we stayed like that for a minute or two. After that, he gradually inched his way up into my lap, finally resting his head on my shoulder. I kissed the top of his head and held him close. He got my shirt all wet. And we both put everything into perspective.
The tidying eventually got done but that's not the part we're going to remember. Though days like Monday seem sometimes long in the living, the truth of the matter is that they fly by in a blur of activity. It won't be for that much longer that my child will want to crawl into my lap to be comforted, held. Indeed, what a good teaching opportunity that turned out to be...for me.