Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I Can't Decide

Laura, over at Casa Case decided to come clean with the dirty little secret about 5.5 year old children. She asked for back-up, so here goes.

5.5 seems to be another one of those times, like 3.75 and 2.5. You have this adorable child who is learning all kinds of neat things, and making huge developmental leaps, and 50% of the time is wowing you with amazing compassion and insight.

Then, the other 50% of the time, the child is a raving lunatic. This is bad enough with just Michael, but after school everyday I get to see what it's like when you throw two 5.5 year olds together. Sometimes it's sweet. Sometimes it's funny. Sometimes they gang up on Andy and I and do everything they can to drive us crazy. If Michael wants to play outside, J wants to stay in and draw. If J wants to draw on the white board, Michael has to weasel his way in and make sure he draws on it too. At first I just thought they were different kids and wanted to do different things, but then I started to notice the little grins each boy would get when throwing a wrench into the works. And the looks they give each other when they get things going. They are doing this for fun!

They aren't even very subtle about it. In the morning, Michael goes over to J's house and his dad sees them to the bus stop. One day J's mom was home with them and J just casually informed her, "Mom, we get a little crazy. Just so you know." At least they warned her.

It's mostly cute and a little crazy for the hour that we have both boys, but I really feel for mom's of twins who deal with this ALL. THE. TIME.

The worst aspect of this age isn't the crazy boy thing after school. It's the reappearance of "I can't decide." This started when Michael was little in what I call the "I don't want what I want" tantrums. It's not Michael's normal contrariness. He truly cannot pick between two or more options and he freezes up and then melts down. They are a nightmare because there is no way to win. Nothing I say or do can solve the problem for him.

This happened last night when I picked Michael up from my mom's after work (the kids had a half day yesterday) . He was fine until we got to the elevator and decided that he wanted to take the elevator AND the steps. He hemmed and hawed and finally got onto the elevator, but by the time we got to the bottom floor, he had decided he wanted to take the steps. Knowing that he was really struggling (and also that he's too big to bodily remove from the elevator) I decided to head back up and let him take the stairs as well. We got off on the 6th floor and I started for the stairs.

"Mommy! I can't decide!" Michael anxiously told me.

Deep breath. "We already took the elevator. Now let's take the steps so we can do both."

"But I can't decide!"

We went back and forth with this insane conversation for a few more minutes and then I finally just asked him if he wanted a hug. He grabbed me and sobbed and sobbed. He was devastated at the thought of choosing one over the other.

I finally bet him that there were a hundred stairs and asked him to take a guess. "20!" So I grabbed his hand and said, "Let's go count!" He headed to the stairwell with me and we counted all 68 steps. Then we ran to the car. I got him hooked in quickly and took off before he realized what I had done.

"BUT MOMMY, I WANTED TO TAKE THE ELEVATOR!"

I just let him sob on the way home. By the time he got there, he seemed to be OK. I parked and went around the car to let him out.

"I can't decide if I want to get out."

And that, is what 5.5 is like.