“No Mommy!” Isn’t exactly what parents like to hear when asking their children to do something, but for me it is an accomplishment. The very act of defiance shows how far we’ve come navigating my son through speech and language. There was a time, not so long ago, when the ability to express dislike in spoken form seemed stymied. There were only tears, frustration and the very widely used question/word/acceptance of “Okay.”
This year has had it’s ups and downs; everyday seems like a roller-coaster. One moment the world is a happy place and the next moment there are only screams of agitation, gritting teeth and balled fists for unknown irritates or aggravations. Toys are tossed, water is splattered or a little head is precariously thrown to the floor… but in the midst of it all there are words where words hadn’t been.
“I am sad!”
“I don’t want it.”
“No one is talking!”
… and there is supposed to be this feeling of return fire, bullet words for bullet words…
“I told you not to do that!”
“Pick that up right now!”
“You do not tell me what to do!”
… but instead underneath the agony of hearing an emotionally hurt child, especially one where you can’t point a finger at the source, there is a feeling of overwhelming pride.
“It’s okay sweetheart. It’s okay to be sad. I don’t know why you are sad, but it’s okay, it’s just not okay to throw things. You need to ask for help, I’m right here.”
My little angel of a 5 year old has been coming into himself this year a great deal and with that there is the tumultuous waters of self identification. I is a very pronounced word that is used to exclaim multiple things that he once couldn’t say for himself. It has also opened the door to awareness in others around him, such as noticing when other kids can do things that he cannot.
No becomes, “No. I want one more minute. One more minute.” There is room for holding onto his self and this new defiance while understanding that he must still follow what Mommy and Daddy says.
Every day he says something new and it is almost the same feeling as hearing your child speak for the first time every day. My husband and I no longer ask each other if we taught him such and such phrase, we know it is him and his own words now. We get to see the sweetness behind his screaming and throwing himself to the floor saying, “I’m sad! I’m sad because it doesn’t work!”, and curling up in arms to hear that it’s going to be alright instead of placing up a wall pushing that force back with, “We don’t yell! Find something else!”
Because it’s easy for me to say that I’m angry and explain why I am angry, but for him it has taken so long to get to where he can simply say that he is upset. He’s also still trying so hard to figure out how to explain why he’s upset that the price of taking that away is too great.
So I let him scream at me and I swallow back the aggravated tears that well up and I hold on to the little happy thoughts that at least he can now tell me why and we can figure out how to make it better together.