Alex is a grump. He is able to complain about anything. A day does not go by where he doesn’t have multiple complaints about what was done, what wasn’t done, who did what, who didn’t do what, and why that day was not the way he wanted it to be.
Don’t get me wrong: Alex is also a very happy kid. He loves playing. He loves wrestling. He loves spending time with other kids.
But he’s a grump.
I ask him how his day was every day. When I pick him up from school or camp, or if it’s a day at home we discuss our day around dinner time. “What was the best thing about your day?” I learned to ask because asking, “how was your day?” inevitably gets a response of, “TERRIBLE! HORRIBLE! NO GOOD!”
Maybe lots of kids respond this way, but I never cease to be surprised by the negativity: “The best thing about my day was swimming…but the day was ruined when we had to stop swimming” or “the best thing? There was no best thing. It was all terrible” or “I don’t know. I didn’t really like anything we did today.”
There is never not a complaint. Things are never just good. On a rare day, I’ll get a response of, “my day was okay. So-so,” as he gives you one thumb up and one thumb down, or puts his palm down toward the ground and rocks it back in forth in the “so-so” motion.
And lately, that grumpiness is often related to swimming.
Alex loves being in the water. Last summer, we started taking him to lessons. He had only been in water maybe three or fours times prior to that, so needless to say it took quite a while for him to not be totally freaked out by the whole thing. But now, about a year after he had his first lesson? The kid wants to be swimming all.the.time.
He’s not exactly a Swimmer, either. I finally feel confident that if he is in a pool he won’t, you know, die. But I wouldn’t throw him out in the middle of a deep pool or lake and expect it to end well, either. Fortunately, he has all of the confidence in the world about his swimming abilities when he is able to stand.
And as such? No day is perfect because he didn’t get to spend the entire day in the water.
Today, Alex has a field trip with his summer camp. I asked him this morning how excited he was and his response? “It’s going to be terrible because it’s not a swimming day.”
What a little grump.
I discovered this post sitting in my drafts. It’s from a little over one year ago, and comparing it to the recent hose pictures I am completely blown away by the kid that has emerged in a year.
It’s funny how every at stage of Alex’s life, every few months, I find myself saying, “now he really looks like a kid…” and “oh, no, I mean, now he’s a kid!” I don’t imagine this will change as he continues to grow, change, learn, grow, change, learn, and grow into himself. Grow into the self that I sometimes get a glimpse of: the grown up Alex. The real big Alex.
But these old pictures? Oh man, he was such a little guy still. I mean, look at him now! He looks like he belongs in school, riding bikes, reading, running, talking back…he does all of these things, of course (except riding bikes…we’ve got to teach him that, still!), but he really looks like he does them, too.
So here is an old post that for some reason I never published. Cute, little, Alex.
He may be growing up (too fast), but he is clearly still a little kid.
He (apparently) still needs me to tell him which way his shorts go on.
I couldn’t find our sprinkler. I couldn’t find the slip ‘n slide. I couldn’t find the baby pool/slide combination thing that he has probably far outgrown.
He didn’t care.
A hose is all he needed.
No one will be surprised to learn that by the end of this little adventure in hose play I was completely soaked.
It was worth it.
Zach’s father just celebrated his 60th birthday. To commemorate the amazingness that is turning 60, Zach’s mother decided we should throw a surprise party.
But not just any surprise party. This would be extra special. Amazingly special. We would get family and friends from all over the country in addition to the family and friends that are close. We would have amazing food, a bartender (!), and lots and lots of fun. It would be hosted at our house, under the guise that Zach would make us all cocktails before a fancy dinner out in order to get Zach’s father, called Big D by Alex (and, let’s be honest, everyone else at this point because kids do that), to our place.
Somehow we managed to keep the secret. Somehow, even though Alex knew for months, no one spilled the beans.
Somehow we managed to get almost all of the many people who love Big D to Pittsburgh, staying in hotels, quietly facebooking so no one knew where they were, eating take-out at our house because we couldn’t go out and risk being spotted! Somehow we managed to absolutely shock Big D.
And, yeah, there were many (happy) tears shed.
At one point Alex asked me why people were crying. “Sometimes, people cry when they are happy. They’re happy tears!” I attempted to explain through tears. He looked at me like I was crazy and walked away, only to show up again when cake was served.
It is a funny thing to cry when happy, but I, along with at least ten other people, shed a lot of tears during this party. It made taking pictures a bit difficult at times because everything was so blurry and made me even happier to be the one behind the camera so I could mostly hide my ugly-cry-face.
All of Big D’s siblings were able to make it: three from New England and one flew all the way up from Florida!
Plus their spouses and kids, and kids’ kids!
The outtakes from the family pictures are, by far, my favorite pictures of the day. People who see each other not nearly enough having way too much fun.
And then there’s Alex making this ridiculous face in nearly all of the pictures:
He’s lucky he’s cute and was surrounded by so many people who love him and even more who love his Big D (and therefore have to be nice to him).
It was an amazing day.
We are all lucky to have someone as wonderful as Big D in our life.
Thursday morning I had the pleasure of sleeping in a full two hours later than usual.
It was Alex’s Kindergarten Graduation.
The ceremony was adorable, of course, with each of the three kindergarten classes performing various songs and every child having the opportunity to walk across the stage to collect their diploma.
And of course I was sitting there the whole time thinking, “really? My kid is done with his first year of real school? How can this be?”
It feels like just yesterday we were dealing with a really rough start to the beginning of Kindergarten, full of fear and tears and sadness.
Fortunately, things didn’t stay quite so awful as the days progressed. Things got better, though he never reached the point I had really hoped he would: loving it.
Learning is hard when you’re a perfectionist. Practicing new tasks is particularly challenging when the thought of getting it wrong causes extreme anxiety. Throughout this year we really struggled with homework, not because it was hard, per se, but because there was a chance he could do it wrong. There was a chance that the picture he drew wouldn’t look exactly like what it was supposed to. There was a chance that his writing wouldn’t be legible, and a chance that he would sound out a word wrong. We had many nights that included many tears. And many more nights that simply included excessive whining, groaning, frustrated-sighing.
But the year went on, and he learned so much despite his insistence that he wasn’t learning anything at all, all day was nothing new, Mom, I don’t want to talk about it.
And then, before I even knew what was happening, it was graduation time. Alex is officially done with Kindergarten, done with his first year of school.
He was, by far, the best dressed at the event.
And he was, by far, the best Kindergartener he could be and I cannot wait to see what next year brings.
My little first grader.
Zach and I recently took an absolutely amazing trip to Turks and Caicos. Every day we were there was a total dream. Perfect, quiet, (nearly) stress free.
To get that stress free environment, we went without Alex. So, we had an entire week away from our little dude. No one to wake us up at ungodly o’clock. No one to ask us for more food because he’s still hungry at every hour of the day. No one to whine about some random fact of life.
It was wonderful.
Don’t get me wrong: I love my kid. Love love love my kid. He is truly the most amazing person in my life. But sometimes? Sometimes a break is nice. Sometimes a break is needed.
I missed my little guy by the end of the week. While we were away, Zach’s parents had him for the weekend and my mother took care of him at our house during the week. We hoped this would give him some semblance of normalcy: sleeping in his bed, eating his normal breakfast, driving the same short distance to school.
The week didn’t end up quite so normal, though. Overnight Tuesday, Alex came down with a stomach bug. Barfing barfing everywhere.
MOMMY GUILT, ACTIVATE.
I wished I could be with him. He was sick, and here I was drinking rum punch, reading books on the beach, and doing whatever I wanted. Alex ended up staying home for the rest of the week, never quite recovering until Friday.
My poor mother.
But. She made it through. Alex made it through. We all made it through.
On our second night back, I was enjoying being home, back in our bed, when in the wee hours of the morning I heard Alex. I heard him in his room, getting out of bed. Then I heard the door creak open. Then I heard our door creak open.
He was crying, and running towards our bed. “I had a bad dream. It was a nightmare.”
We snuggled and hugged and his breathing slowed down. I asked him what his dream was about and he told me he didn’t want to talk about it. I asked if it was a scary dream, and he told me, “yeah, it was scary, but not, like, monster scary.”
It took the rest of the day, asking him a few additional times, to get him to tell me what his bad dream was about. “I dreamed that you and Daddy were leaving and you were never coming back to me.”
MOMMY GUILT, ACTIVATE.
So. It’s good to be home, and that dream, thank goodness, was a one time dream.
(But I’m still counting down to the next vacation.)