A couple of years ago, I read about a study that had concluded that boys’ brains, in particular, don’t finish developing the part that allows them to make good judgment calls until very late…like, sometime into the college years, if my memory is correct.
He can’t seem to remember…or more likely, he chooses not to remember…the things he’s been repeatedly yelled at for. Like jumping on the couch. He’s absolutely determined that he MUST remove the cushions, use them to build steps, and pretend that the couch is his Jazzercise stage. And he keeps drawing on the table and the floor with marker, despite multiple warnings and punishments. (I don’t know if I ever wrote about the day he got his hands on a SHARPIE and defaced the Amish-made oak table. Christian and I worked for an hour to get that off.) He also can’t seem to remember that Mommy gets really ticked off when he puts glasses and washcloths on the edge of the tub and pours water over them, which cascades onto the floor. But the best (worst?) one was the day I found him with his hands in the big water pitcher I had just filled with filtered water for the family to drink at dinner. I mean, seriously, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING, boy? Why would you even think that was okay, as many times as you’ve seen me yell at your baby brother for similar infractions?????
Even so, he has such a personality. As a parent, you tend to collect and organize the comments people make about your kids. Alex is complimented on his maturity and love and caring for his siblings. Julianna, well, Julianna’s Julianna. Michael gets the “he’s so cute” in equal parts with “wow, he wears me out!” (Yeah, me too.) But Nicholas is the one people adore. Teachers, sitters, even my next door neighbor, always say, “He’s got such a personality!” He’s the one they remember. The one who stands out most as having the strongest-developed character at the youngest age. Julianna could give him a run for the money on this, but her extra chromosome gives her an unfair advantage, so we’ll set all that aside for right now. 🙂 He’s got a great, unselfconscious, warbling laugh, and he’s dying to be like the big kids. Which could get him into trouble, because Big Brother’s friends are learning how to make him say and do things…so far relatively innocuous, but inevitably that’s going to change.
Nicholas is funny about following directions. We’ve learned more or less how to handle him, and it’s not the way I’d choose to handle a situation; it involves too much backpedaling and feeling like we’re allowing the child to take charge. But he’s unbelievably strong-willed, so I am coming to the conclusion that this is the only way to parent him successfully. You have to start any conversation/decision making process early enough for him to say “No,” forcefully, several times. Then you have to give him lots of time to change his mind, because if you don’t, he’ll pitch all manner of fits, and act like he’s the victim because you made preparations based on the preference he gave you in the first place. At nap time he’ll push me away: “I don’t want a hug!” He’s trying to punish me for making him take a nap. But if I say, “Okay, fine,” and head out of the room, he’ll immediately scream, “I WANT A HUG!” And if I try to teach the lesson that you don’t get to change your mind repeatedly, he’ll scream and cry for ten minutes, as if he’s being mistreated. So I’ve learned to ask, “Do you want a hug?” I rein in my impatience while he screws up his face–you can see the gears spinning, working out scenarios. “Do you want a hug?” I repeat.
“I’m trying to think,” he says. (Face palm.)
He will also banish himself to his room when told to eat a food he doesn’t like or apologize for bad behavior–and he’ll sit upstairs having periodic conversations with you about how he’s not ready to come down and do what he’s told. But in the end, he always does. Sometimes it takes five minutes, sometimes fifteen. But he always comes around in the end.
Note: I forgot to include his absolute, complete, debilitating terror of monsters. No matter how many times I tell him monsters don’t exist, he is now terrified of being by himself. This morning (Saturday) I was awakened by a screaming child running into my room and vaulting on top of me, his heart pounding like a rabbit’s.
Well, a couple of non-Nicholas things. This week something happened to me that has never happened to me before. I completely lost my voice on the day of a gig. I’ve had weak and sore throats, but never none. I didn’t really believe it. I was supposed to lead a Mass for the diocesan principals, and I enlisted last-minute help, but when it came time for the chant Mass parts, which I never play, I told them I’d come up and help them get started singing. Only I opened my mouth and nothing came out. Just a little hiss of air. I tried three times, and…nothing.
Voice is beginning recovery today…good thing, b/c I have to sing a wedding tomorrow.
Christian reminded me of a funny memory this week as we were watching the “new” Star Trek movie again. It came out in the theaters when Julianna was in the hospital–on a bi-pap she didn’t like AT ALL. When we reached the :27 mark of this clip…..
Christian leaned over to me and said, “Look! It’s Julianna!”