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The Six-Year-Old Teenager and Other Stories

Is this thing on?

So I know you’ll all be shocked, but parenting a 6 year old is HARD. Here I thought that as soon as he started school it’d be all smooth sailing, but he has all these opinions and ideas and stuff. Also energy. My kid will literally run around in circles, for fun. We make jokes about hamster wheels. (They are only partly jokes.)

The kid is a teenager in disguise. He tells us, quite seriously and often, that he knows more than we do and that he’s always right. We explain things, and he dismisses our words out of hand (“You’re wrong. I know.”). There are many, many episodes that involve storming off to his room.

And then he comes and snuggles up and argues about who loves who more, and we wonder how we could ever have thought he was anything other than a very little boy.

mama and ellison Those are my days: hair-pulling frustration followed by heart-bursting affection. Was this what I expected when I was so desperate to be a parent? I barely even remember what it was like to not have a kid. How much free time I must have had! How much sleep I must have gotten! Except I do remember being terribly busy and terribly tired, so there goes that theory.

I do know that I thought it would be easier. Or maybe not easier: more intuitive. Like, for example, the way I know he’s sick by the smell of his breath. That’s something that just happens, without my having to try. Whereas when my hyperactive, physical, reading-averse kid tells me things like “sometimes I just get excited and then I don’t know how to stop,” I honestly don’t know what to do, and I feel like I should. I should just know. I should be able to adjust my parenting style to fit my kid’s learning style, and instead we both just get frustrated and upset. (A really good mom would look at this as an opportunity for personal growth. A challenge, in the best way.) (I am not a really good mom.)

A long time ago I worried that he hadn’t learned to clap. Other kids could clap, but not my kid. Was he clap-deficient? Had I failed to properly teach him how to smack his hands together in a rhythmic fashion? Would he forever lag behind his applauding peers?

He claps just fine now, of course. Surely that can’t be a metaphor.*

*Or is it a simile? I can never remember.