King Lewie is growing up.
Good news? Yes. Assuredly so.
Does it also mean that parenting has taken a turn? Oh yes. Oh my goodness, yes.
The changes in Lewis are so rapid and so drastic that we feel like we can’t keep up. It is like someone took away the kid we knew and left a stranger in his place. He looks like Lewis, but he isn’t Lewis!
The especially interesting part is that Lewis also doesn’t seem to be able to keep up with himself. He recognizes that he can do more now, but it is like he doesn’t know what to do with it. Sometimes the result is that he pushes himself too far and gets frustrated that he can’t do what he thought he could.
Physically, this means he may end up falling down, or he closes the baby gate and can’t open it like he wants. Or perhaps he knows he wants to build something out of his blocks, but he can’t quite get it to come together. He gets very frustrated and has outbursts, but he won’t accept help because he feels like he should be able to do it himself. This results in a lot of “do you want help?”, “you can do it!”, “do you want to do it together?”, or “try again, buddy” from mama and dada.
Verbally, pushing himself too far means that he thinks he is telling us exactly what he wants to say, but we can’t understand. He gets very frustrated with that because he doesn’t end up getting what he is asking for from us.
This is all very challenging for Kyle and me as parents, because our previously even-tempered, calm little buddy is constantly melting down, throwing tantrums, throwing toys, hitting, forgetting his manners, and generally being a little turd. All of those behaviors, in turn, make us feel very frustrated, since we don’t know what to do with Lewis when he is like that, and we don’t want the behavior to continue (in the short-term or the long-term). We feel like brand new parents getting to know our child. (Thank goodness the new baby isn’t here yet, because getting to know both of them at the same time might kill us!)
We try to remind ourselves that, as the adults, we are the ones who have to make the adjustments. Lewis is developmentally incapable of changing his situation and attitude to adapt to this new life. So we are the ones who have to figure it out for everyone, lead by example, and guide him towards better behavior. Sometimes, this takes the shape of showing extra compassion, like rocking Lewis to sleep at bedtime like a tiny baby because, well, he needs it. Other times the solution is less tender and intimate, and more stern.
And in the really challenging moments, we don’t find the right solution and have outbursts of our own. Parenting is not for the faint of heart, and even with the best intentions and goals, we are only human ourselves at the end of the day. It can be hard even for us grown ups to keep our tempers in check when we are being so challenged.
Yes, we’ve definitely entered a new phase. I’m crossing fingers that we figure out how to navigate Lewis (and ourselves) sooner rather than later, because this has been most exhausting for all of us. Kyle and I both want King Lewie to be a kind, respectful, well-mannered, rule-following, self-confident human at the end of the day. We just hope we don’t screw this all up!