Today we had a few errands to run. Well, technically, we had three errands at two different places, but this still required negotiating with J. If you have been reading about J for a while, you know we’ve come a long way in this area. We’ve progressed from adamance to hesitation to outright quid pro quo to two-way-street meet-in-the-middle negotiation. It is very comforting to not be dealing with someone who will cling to a doorframe with nails and teeth.
Of course, this has not been an easy thing to achieve. J does know when he wants to be open to something, and when he is simply and irrevocably against it. There was a time when I felt that winning the argument was necessary, but now I’m more concerned on trying to learn how to get to where we want to be. This doesn’t necessarily mean that I am willing to cave in, but it also doesn’t mean that I won’t.
Every single day we negotiate something. Some things are minor (no, you’re not having your pepperoni and cheese snack today; you can have it tomorrow,) and some things are major (no, I am NOT going to walk around without my glasses just because you don’t want me to see what you did in the laundry room!) We negotiate anyway. We negotiate whether we’re going to check the mail at 11:00, or if we want to wait until 4. We negotiate whether we’re running with the Wii, or using the elliptical. We negotiate whether we are going to take a bath at 3:30, or if we’re doing it before bedtime. Timers are negotiated. Snacks are negotiated. Bedtimes are negotiated. We have figured out that if J wants something he will be willing to find a way to let us know, and we will find a way to get him to wait for it.
For the most part it works. J has attempted to throw a tantrum, but the close proximity in which we function these days has taught him that I know we can’t just succumb to hyperbolic behavior. Last Thursday J was spectacularly angry, threw a significant tantrum, and then apologized and did his Wii run while arm-in-arm with me. All because I said “I will accept that you’re pissed off, but I will not accept that you’re being an asshole about it.” The whole incident lasted ten minutes; the apology was heartfelt and extended for an hour. We were friends for the rest of the weekend.
Yesterday evening, after J made it clear that it was entirely too hot to leave the house all day, I explained that I had a doctor’s appointment today, and that he and Dada would be going to the DMV to get his ID done. He looked anxious, but he trusted that I was telling him the truth. We had to repeat ourselves twenty times over before bedtime, and twenty times over on the ride between here and the hospital (2.5 miles away,) but J accepted the scheduled activities. I went into my appointment and, for the very first time, sent J off to do something long, boring, and public with just Dada.
You know how DMVs are on a Monday morning. The line was long, Dada said. The wait was boring, Dada said. J was only upset when they took his old ID away from him, but the clerk allowed him to keep it after invalidating it. An hour later (yes, I know…a minor miracle) they were on their way to meet me, and we headed out to J’s destination of choice: Target.
This is what I have learned about my son over the past two months: he is good company, but he likes his space and time to be under his control. He is kind and charming. He is funny and helpful. He likes being around me, but he also likes being by himself. The biggest lesson, however, has been that I’m perfectly OK with that.
We have good days. We have days that, in hindsight, could have been better. We have days that are definite scrap-pile material. We try. Today we succeeded. In small increments, but we succeeded. There’s not much else we can aspire to on a day-to-day basis.
We’re fine with that.