Just before Christmas, Z turned seven. Because of all the merrymaking, visiting and skiing, it wasn't until mid-January when I suddenly took notice of how he’s changed. It seems logical that the new year would mark the time for me to recognize his growth. It could also be because we’re stuck inside and keep running into each other on the stairs.
What I think has changed the most at seven is the growth of his vocabulary. Also, his ability to string together long sentences. He will often start now with, “Take for instance…” “As a matter of fact…” or even “Mom, were you aware that…” I have to assume he’s picking these phrases up from his teachers. I’ve stopped saying “As a matter of fact,” because I can never get my facts straight. And he's talking more. In the past, he claimed to have forgotten everything that went on each day at school. Now he can at least tell me who got told off and why. As far as what he's learning academically, that's was still a bit vague. Until I attended a parent's evening and realized he's done more school work at seven than I did by seventeen.
He is also becoming the master of negotiation. Not long ago we were going in a bad direction when his negotiation tactics centred on what he wouldn’t do if we didn’t give him what he wanted.
“If I don’t get ice cream I won’t be your best kid anymore.”
“Z, you’re my only kid.”
“Well, I won’t be very good then.”
I’ve made it a mantra in my house now to remind him that nice people generally get what they want. People who slam doors, hit or yell are only demonstrating the immaturity of their neocortex. He cares about his brain, so this one is starting to pay off. Now he’s much more likely to sweeten the deal with me by offering a positive outcome.
“Mom, if you give me a wipe, I’ll get my shoes and coat on.”
“But Z, it’s already your responsibility to get your shoes and coat on.”
“But I’ll do it really fast. And I promise not to get distracted.”
I always fall for this one because getting him out the door in the morning is like wrestling with a nine-headed hydra. Every little thing on the very short path between the sitting room and the door appears to him to be something shiny and in need of investigation. I have to literally hold onto both his hands and guide him to the coat rack. But if he tells me he’ll do something, he will. And so, at seven, I am still occasionally wiping his butt.
We used to attend a Waldorf school in Seattle. In the Waldorf world, the period from six to seven is considered the “first puberty.” In my snider moments I refer to it as “six going on sixteen” and roll my eyes. But I think these Waldorfians are onto something. I think this really is a transformative time in a child’s life when they are becoming more aware of the world and their place in it. And that can be frightening. It can scare the child too, only they’re not willing to admit it.
But essentially, seven is a blast. Z still wants to play with me, jumps into my arms when I come to pick him up from school, even though I’ve told him many times he’s going to break my back one of these days. This morning he asked me to come sit with him while he ate his breakfast. These are good days for us. And I do need to remind myself to park my butt on the sofa and give him the time he craves. Because I’m sure, in not too long, I’ll be the one begging him to sit down with me.