I took this picture of Aaron last week. I loved it immediately. It's not your typical "cute kid" picture but the expression seems to fit him.
He is a highly sensitive boy anyway and I have always wondered how it would affect him as he grows up. He has done extremely well in school this year both socially and academically. Way better than I anticipated actually. He's reading books that Noah read in first grade last year and he is learning how to separate good from bad behaviors socially.
I put him in young fives instead of kindergarten this year because of his sensitivities issues. I do think it was the right decision, even though I think he would have been fine either way, in hindsight that is.
He is prone to "phases" big time though. The last few weeks he has entered into a overly sensitive, crying temper tantrum phase. It doesn't help that his big brother knows how to push his buttons and does it at every drop of a hat, which often makes it hard to figure out which kid should receive the consequence at any given time...the one who instigated or the one who reacted so horribly that things got way out of hand.
Within this phase (which I know was brought on by a school situation, but it still needs to be dealt with at home) he is also back to acting quite a bit younger than his actual age. It was very frustrating this past weekend while we were with so many other kids. He was flying off the handle constantly, I was frustrated at both his behavior and other's reaction to it, and by Sunday I was feeling very dejected.
I went to bed Saturday night wondering what changes we could make to try to counter act the behavior. Up until then, I had been just ignoring it and telling him to stop crying. The result was that he would wander off crying, instigating more fights with whomever (usually his brother) had started the fight in the first place and the problem continued to escalate.
So when yet another tantrum started at my parent's house this weekend, it was suggested that instead of ignoring it, which was clearly not working, I should try to nurture it. Extra over the top hugs, kisses and love each time the crying started.
It's working! All three times he had a fit on Sunday, I tried it and each time when he calmed down, went off in a different direction to do something else, rather than return to the place where the problem started. In the four days since then, we have had a total of ONE crying fit. I am feeling very ashamed that it took someone else to tell me to show my kid some love but this is the same person who has been teaching me how to love people for a very long time when I was never quite taught those skills in my younger years. I just consider myself lucky that I have her now to kick my rear into gear when I need it.
And I have to admit, I like the chance to just sit and snuggle with Aaron. I realized that I don't do that nearly enough with either of the boys anymore. Just because they're getting older, doesn't mean that they don't need that affection anymore. I think that maybe in the name of "discipline" I may have erred on the side of lacking nurturing. It's a good lesson that I need to learn...finding the balance between the two. I have not learned the art of nurturing very well and you would have thought that after almost eight years of parenting I would have gotten better. Luckily, all is not lost. The boys are still young and changes for the better can always be made. If I don't nurture them now, how will they ever learn to nurture others?
It's interesting that the person who reminded me that I need to be more nurturing is one of the few people in my life who have actually nurtured me. It is such a good lesson for me. What we learn when we are young is what we are when we are older. But at the same time, I have also learned that it's not too late to instill nurturing in my kids, because I don't think it's too late for me to learn how either. And I also know that you never outgrow the need to be nurtured...even as adults, we need it too.
The week has definitely been so much better than it would have been had I not been given this advice. Do I worry about what will happen next week? Big Time! Between Aaron returning to the stressful classroom situation and every evening home with Steve and Noah alone, it's going to be hard to keep the new Aaron going.
But for now, I will continue to enjoy the new dynamic that the three of us have going. Noah doesn't seem to be baiting him nearly as much either. Maybe Noah is learning a little nurturing in the process too. One can only hope. Or maybe he doesn't like that little brother gets extra snuggles every time he gets picked on. Whatever the reason, it doesn't matter. We're happier, which in the long run, is the only thing that counts.
And all it took was a little bit of love.