Friday, March 20, 2009

All about Michael

This week, I read a blog post from Soule Mama that made me think of Michael. She talked about going on solo dates with each of her four children. In this particular post, she wrote succinctly and beautifully about a solo date with her son at the museum. She photographed the moments she spent watching him observe and draw the art. She captured in a few simple words what I feel about my special boy. About hearing his thoughts, looking at his art and seeing his heart. That boy. My boy.

Lately, I've been feeling frustrated and discouraged about my boy. I've been feeling a little sad when I think about Michael and how our relationship is changing. He's six. Six is tough. He's defiant. He argues - with his sister, with me. Sometimes he argues just to argue. He talks back. I find myself spending more time in a day correcting him and being angry than enjoying him. I sometimes get to the end of the day feeling really down because I realize that most of my interactions with him that day have been negative. And I don't feel good about being his mother and how I've handled him. I know that now he's in his third year of school, he's more likely to be influenced by his peers than by me. And I look at him and miss some of the sweet, sensitive things he used to do. I admit, as one of three girls, I have no experience growing up with boys. I don't know what boys are like, how they think or what games they play and I'm learning each day with Michael.

What I find most frustrating is trying to find a balance. Trying to allow him to be himself, even if I don't always like it. It's hard for me to even write, let alone think. But, it's true. I don't always like the language he uses, or the aggressive manner in which he plays sometimes, or the attitude he gives me. I know that sometimes, when I've tried to handle difficult situations with him, I've been mean - especially when I was alone with all three kids and Joey was on interim last week. Then there's the physical side of being a boy. Don't even get me started with the penis business. I don't have one, so I don't understand what it's like. I don't want him to be embarrassed or ashamed. So I don't quite know what to say or do about penis stuff.

But I can still see his sweet, sensitive side and I protect it as much as I can. I try to nurture it when I see it. So this week, Michael had two days home from school for parent/teacher conferences and I got to do some things with just him. I loved it. We read books. We stopped off at the coffee shop - Cally in tow, sleeping all the while - and we talked, uninterrupted. I found him some scraps - boxes, yarn, toilet tubes - to make things with. We played with Cally and I told him stories of when he was a baby. So when I read about the solo dates Soule Mama takes with her children, I made a resolution to have more dates with Michael. I often get time with Ella, but I realized I miss my time with Buddy.

Yesterday, we had his conference at school. It was a student led conference, so Buddy showed us around his class to tell us what he's been learning. I was amazed and excited watching him explain what he does at school - reading, writing, math, social studies, PE. I loved that he was bursting with enthusiasm to share his things and talk about the fun he has at school. He showed us math games, writing an all about book starting with a web of ideas, and he even read to us. Each student flipped through a portfolio they'd put together to show their progress since the beginning of the year. On each piece, the kids had to explain why they picked it for the portfolio. Michael showed us a math activity - they'd cut out numbers and had to glue them in order along a strip of paper. On his explanation, he said, I picked this because I know my mom and dad would be proud.

And I was. So proud.

Oh, and somehow Joey and I missed out on teaching Buddy to ride a bike without training wheels. Joey took him to a birthday party at the Lower Primary this weekend and called me to let me know that Buddy had just hopped on a bicycle and taken off. Buddy didn't even mention that he'd learned to do that at school.


Putri said...

i'm so proud of him too! i love those photos, i just can't believe how big he is getting. you and joey are amazing, loving, and especially cool, parents. and you should be proud of yourself at what wonderful children you are raising, even when it seems challenging. i love you so much.

Christian Parmann said...

yes..i totally get what you're going through. it's hard to know when to let them be boys and when to correct it. what's frustrating is thinking that all of this correcting is going to make them have low self esteem, or have them think they love you less than the other sibling, or just act out more because they think this is how they'll get attention from you. you said it best, just continue to nurture that sweet boy. ride the bumps. i often have to remind myself that Niko has no ill bones in his body and this is just a boy testing the limits. just keep being a great and gentle mom like you are! love ya, christian

Anonymous said...

we ALL have the capacity to be rather unbearable at and adults alike. sometimes i actually think that adults get away with far more crap than kids....but anyhow...point tough at it is to tolerate...michael is just a regular kid, trying to navigate his place in your family. he might be a little more combative at times than you'd like, but ultimately, wouldn't you rather he learn to assert his opinion than to wonder if it's alright if he opens his mouth? that has to be protected as much as his sensitivity or sweetness.

besides...i think you probably understand his position for more than you give yourself credit might not know what it's like to grow up with a brother...but .you do know what it's like to grow up as the oldest child. i know it wasn't always easy for you.

i hope you guys get to spend more one-on-one time together....because i know how much it means to well as you. love you very much! xn

emily said...

oh, norbyah.

oh, michael.

i love and miss you both.

gilly said...

yes yes's all ahead of me...and that penis stuff is already confusing me! It's so damn unpredictable...the penis! x

Becca said...

Hi Norbyah -
Catching up on your blog.
I love this post.
I feel like it is a glimpse into my future ;) I also have just one sister. And sometimes already feel overwhelmed by having a BOY. And having both of my BOYS at home all day sometimes I feel left out of all the boyness....and when I see them playing and Nick is kicking a ball through the house and it's ricocheting off of all my things I am like "You need to set a better example!" And he says, "This is how boys PLAY" (Nicks it the oldest of 3 boys)....So I am bracing myself. Soaking in the two year-old boyness. Still giggling at the eager hand down the diaper. PENISES! Thank you for sharing your feelings. Glad I have both you AND Emily in my life for advice and words of wisdom. :)

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