Six-year-olds are jerks.
Did you know that?
We’ve been struggling for weeks and weeks with all manner of things with Jack. Finally I went back to the parenting bible I had browsed a year ago – Your Six-Year-Old by Ames & Ilg – and everything became clear. I’m not failing and cancer isn’t stealing Jack’s youth and soul. He’s acting like a jerk because he’s six!
I don’t know why this surprised me. I’ve experienced similar revelations about other frustrating ages and stages. And as each year passes I revise my opinion that the age we just said goodbye to was the worst. Because seriously, kids only get more complicated with age!
But six…I really can’t imagine much worse. At least it’s well known (possibly because we remember them better) that the teen years suck. I remember enough of my teen years to know that I was a royal asshole and nothing my mom could do would have changed that fact – it was like I was implanted with a rage generator. I do not, however, remember much about age six so I just assumed it was mostly shiny and happy. I remember loving school, after all!
My memory is obviously faulty.
It’s always been amazing to watch Jack’s mind work, but now it’s getting scary. He understands – and correctly uses – sarcasm. He imagines up new species and describes their evolution – and it sounds plausible (and sometimes it’s a real thing that he thought he made up!). He states facts about science that *I* have to look up. His mind is getting sharper while mine is slowing down.
He is getting smarter than me, people!
He doesn’t know that, though. He’s still under the impression that adults know everything (although he argues anyway) and he doesn’t want to be an adult quite yet because he’s intimidated by how much it seems he has to learn first. Still, he wants to be important and he wants to be heard. He’s just unsure whether that is a function of age or something else. The uncertainly and anxiety have given him a raging case of “short man syndrome.” And the best person to take that shit out on?
At least in our family it’s that way. Sure, Jack is a jerk to his other parents, too, but I seem to draw most of his ire. Maybe it’s because I’m the reminder of how much he has yet to learn. Maybe it’s because he feels safe and secure with me, thus he can act like a complete asshat and know that I will still love him 150%. Or perhaps it’s just a function of the mother-son relationship. I don’t really know.
In any case, I now know that it’s not about me.
And now I’m telling you all, too, so you don’t agonize like I have been: it’s not about you.
[Jack is seven soon. Please tell me the madness stops...]