Sunday, January 29, 2012


Friday was Jorge's fifth birthday.  Yes, five.  I don't know why, but I am having a hard time believing it.  I've checked the math at least twice, sure I was counting wrong.  Maybe it's his size--he just now fits into 4T reasonably well.  Maybe it's his attitude--he still has huge screaming meltdowns almost daily.  Maybe it's because we've only been his parents for 3.5 years.  Maybe it's his academic standing.  It's probably a combination.

By five, I felt like Katie was already pretty solidly a grown-up.  She had finished her year of pre-school and was ready to start Kindergarten  at the end of that summer.  She was reading well and was pretty self-regulated.

Jorge is only 1/2 way through his pre-k year and won't start Kindergarten for nearly 8 months.  He's nearly reading, but switches to guessing after a word or two.  He's right on track--in fact he's doing great at school and his teachers are completely in love with him and he's one of the most mature boys in the class--but he's just a different person all around than Katie.  He has his own strengths and interests and patterns.

The hard truth is that I struggle to understand him. Where Katie and I are so very much alike that I can practically predict her every move, Jorge is a constant mystery to me.  Nearly everything he does strikes me as unexpected.  His likes and dislikes, his passions, his skills, and his strengths are all perfectly normal, but they are utterly unpredictable to me.  I love him, I just can't seem to get into his head.  So we run on our different frequencies and that means we clash more often, have more misunderstandings and fewer unspoken agreements.  It's not all bad.  For every incident of teeth gnashing and door slamming and "you are the worst mommy ever!", there are three more of book cuddling or quiet hugging or random "I love you"s; but it's harder.  It's stormy.  It's just as worth it, but it's much harder.  I work at it every single day.  I seek out ways to compliment his efforts on a Lego creation or the kindness he shows to August or the pets.  I thank him for his help in the kitchen or with the laundry.  I reach and reach for connections to his interests and to listen to his heart as well as his words [wow, that sounds cheesy but there it is!], and sometimes--oh, man, sometimes I fail miserably.

Sometimes when he's telling me about how much he enjoyed something another child shared at recess, I only hear whining about wanting something we can't afford or don't allow.  Sometimes when he's sharing how hard it was for him to finish a project, all I hear is complaints about the way we organize our household.  Sometimes when he's asking for a hug and a kiss, it sounds like a screaming whiny fit.

And sometimes, when I'm asking him to please be quiet so I can concentrate, he hears go away and leave me alone.  When I ask him to help with a task, he hears me insisting he isn't allowed to do anything fun.  When I tell him that he's not old enough or responsible enough yet for certain privileges, he heard "I don't love you."

We work at it.  When we clearly aren't hearing each other's messages correctly we can let it hurt us, or we can ask each other to try saying it again in a nicer way.  Words are powerful powerful things.

Five.  Can't wait to see what this year brings.

My heart.
My boy.
My Jorgie-bear.

I love you, not just through the storms, but maybe even because of them.  Because you are your own self and because you are so true to your own heart. I may not always agree, but I do admire your conviction.

You are a daily surprise and a constant gift.  You teach me things about myself and push me--daily!--to be a better mom and a better person.  You add a spice and an intensity to our lives that can not be described.  If your siblings are vanilla and almond--rich, warm, and mellow--then you, my dear, are cinnamon--complex, spicy, and absolutely necessary.

Love you, snickerdoodle.  --Mom.

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