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Emotional Growth Spurt

Two years ago, Simon and I returned to KIP after winter break and discovered that all his friends had begun talking. The teachers told me that this communal verbal growth spurt was typical. Last year, we returned from break to find that most of his classmates were potty trained. The teachers tell me that always happens, too. Well, I haven’t confirmed whether the experience is universal or not, but this year’s leap was in emotional intelligence and independence.

On January first, at bedtime, a smiling Simon informed me that he wanted to put his own pajama bottoms on. He’s put on some clothes before, but usually needs a little help or gets bored after a time. And he usually has to modify the procedure; like laying his coat out in front of him and then flipping it over his head. On January first, he stepped into his pajama pants one leg at a time. The drawstring tie was on his back, but I was not about to quibble over details. I high-fived him; he beamed with pride. He’s dressed himself as much as he can every day and night since. It’s officially a thing. Right alongside opening the door for me when we leave in the morning and checking to make sure the storm door closes all the way behind us.

He’s also made progress on empathy and understanding how reciprocity in relationships works. And he was already pretty good on those counts!

An early sign was when Simon began spontaneously taking my hand, raising it his mouth, and kissing it. There’s no mystery where the gesture comes from; I do this with him all the time. Still, I was startled the first time he mimicked the gesture. Then he began offering spontaneous back or shoulder rubs—another thing I do for him without thinking. Lately though, any time I sit down beside him for a show or book, he reaches over to “pet” me somehow.

He’s talking about emotional ideas more, too. He watched Toy Story for the first time a few days ago, and did so again today. At one point, he helpfully explained the following to me:

“That kid, Sid [the movie character who maims his toys], isn’t nice. He’s mean to his toys. I don’t think he has any friends, and he doesn’t look happy. But that other Sid, the one from TV [Sid the Science Kid, a show we haven’t watched in ages] who goes to school, he is nice and has lots of friends. He seems happy.”

This spurred a conversation about how mean people are frequently unhappy, and how it almost always makes you feel better and be happier if you are kind to others.

Last night, some ideas about pet stewardship seemed to click, too. Our normal bedtime routine has me read a story or two to Simon and then lie down with him for two songs. On the third, I get up, tuck him in, and kiss him goodnight. Last night Cambria began meowing early on. He gets fed after I tuck Simon in, and I guess he was trying to speed things along. Barely into the second song, Simon initiated a conversation:

“Why is Cambria crying?”

“He’s hungry. He knows that once I tuck you in, I go downstairs to feed him.”

“Oh. I’m good here, Mommy. You can tuck me in now. Cambria needs you.”

I am eager to see how things develop among his classmates. At least one seems to have spontaneously learned to play nicer and be a better friend over the break, as I witnessed just this morning. Mostly, though, I’m just happy to see that “little adolescence” or no, my sweet boy keeps getting sweeter all the time.

One Response to “Emotional Growth Spurt”

  1. blg says:

    I love this:
    “Oh. I’m good here, Mommy. You can tuck me in now. Cambria needs you.”
    You must be so proud!
    I know folks *much* older than Simon who are unable to let someone else’s needs go first. I meet them on line for coffee and getting on and off the subway. Simon makes *me* proud.

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