Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Saved by Chuck E. Cheese

As a child from a large family, I know finding your place in the family dynamics is not always easy.  With my own children, I am very sensitive to this.  Grace, our oldest child, has been fortunate to do so many things in her life.  Being the only child, grandchild and niece for her first 4 years, she has a relationship with our families much different than my other two children.  She's always been the first to do anything.  She is the one chosen to go on shopping trips.  She's the one who gets what she wants....although not necessarily from her parents.  She has used her other resources well to put her in prime position to be spoiled.

Eva is the baby of the family.  Although she is now four years old and will be starting school soon, she will always be the baby.  This she knows as well.  She has her brother and sister wrapped around her finger.  If she has any need or want whatsoever, her siblings are ready to answer her every whim.

Alex, is the middle child.  And the only boy.  He is caught in a trap of older child/little kid syndrome.  Almost six years old, he longs to do the things he sees his older sister do but requires the extra guidance that his younger sister needs.  Surrounded by girls, he sometimes struggles to know where he belongs.  Recently his behavior has been so horrendous I've lost sleep over it.  I just don't know what to do.  He's mouthy and spiteful and down right stubborn.  Too many times in the past few weeks have I just tossed my hands in the air and said, "Now What?"  It's like he takes my parenting abilities and laughs in my face.

I understand his rebellion.  I, too, fought for my parent's attention.  Having three sisters and a baby brother made it difficult to feel like you matter to the family.  I've been trying unsuccessfully to give him all the attention he can handle but only in a positive way.  You want my attention, then you don't haul off and hit your sister.  You help her clean up her toys.  It's hard to not always be disciplining him.  I'm also not one for bribes, although I've resorted to those as well over the past few weeks. 

When Alex is not fighting for his share of family attention, he is the sweetest most loving boy.  He opens the car door for me.  Uses his manners in dealing with his sisters.  Cleans up after himself, his sisters and the dogs.  Those days seem to be fewer nowadays.

Last night, he was invited to a birthday party at the wretched Chuck E. Cheese.  And the invitation was extended to only him.  It is his friend and the first invitation he's had that was not for a cousin or included his sisters.  After school, we dropped off his cousins and sisters and headed back out on the road.  He was definitely perplexed and assumed the worst.  As we drove down the street, I explained to him that I needed to talk to him about something I didn't want his cousins or sisters to know.  Immediately, he teared up and said he was super good in school and didn't know why he was in trouble.  Once I told him about the party invitation, he could barely contain himself.  He picked out the gift he wanted to get his friend, found a card and purchased it all by himself....beaming with pride the entire time.  When we got back home, he found his perfect outfit, sat down at the breakfast bar and began his homework.  When his cousin asked what was going on, he explained: 

"I'm going to a birthday party for my friend and as much as I'd like for you to come, he's my friend and invited me.  Sometimes I just gotta do boy things, but I'll try to bring you home some cake."

This brought a tear to my eye. He's so sweet and sensitive...and the last thing he wanted was to hurt his cousin's feeling because he got to do something she didn't.  Her response was just as sweet.

It's amazing to me how the last few weeks have been so terrible in terms of his behavior and with one individual invitation, he found his sweet self again. 


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