I’m linking this post into Mamabook’s Blog Hop Post which is here. She’s called on all parents of a four-year-old child to form a much needed support group. It’s much needed.

Lewis is my four year old and you’ll get a feel for him in the post. He drives me crazy and I love him.

Mamabook’s original Blog Post about the challenges of her own four year old can be found here.

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motor1We’re on our way to the local playground and despite the cool breeze the sun is beating down on me like a Dominatrix with a burning whip and if it’s having this affect on me I can only imagine what it’s doing to Archie and Lewis and Tyson but as usual they seem oblivious to the weather – Archie is hoping along the footpath, Lewis is stopping frequently to pick up rocks and sticks and Tyson is running and kicking his legs and throwing his hat at the bushes and flowers.

Lewis turns with a large rock, strikes a wide-stance pose and with a Hulk Hogan-ish facial expression tells me, ‘This is my powerrrrrr!’ and then throws his power in my general direction and so I am forced – for the ninth time today – to adopt the crouching position and look him directly in the eye and tell him that what he did was naughty and dangerous even though I know that this approach will simply encourage him to apply his usual countering tactics of humming, or looking up to the sky or dancing a little jig or singing something childish and condescending like, ‘Oh yes Daddy! Thank you, you psycho!’

I love all my children in equal measure but Lewis has been testing me out lately with his stubbornness, his defiance, his repetitive misbehaving. If it wasn’t for his undeniable cuteness and his moments of spontaneous hugs and kisses and the way an ‘I love you’ comes out of the blue I would seriously question my parenting abilities and believe that I am somehow stuffing him up and failing him in a permanent way.

As we continue along the path the sound of a motorbike in the distance hangs over us like a mosquito buzzing over a sleeping man and even though I love where we live – because of the open spaces and the public reserve directly behind our backyard – damn-it-all-to-hell I hate motorbikes and two shitheads have driven past me and my kids at a thousand miles an hour already which drives me crazy because it’s not only illegal, it’s also mind-numbingly stupid. Riding a dirt-bike in a public reserve is not a sport, is not challenging and makes about as much sense to me as sitting in your lounge-room recliner and extending and retracting the leg-rest repeatedly –
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‘Hey, Mum, I’m just going to open and close the leg rest on the recliner for a few hours.’

‘Okay dear. Be careful. And don’t forget to wear your Helmet.’

What a bunch of arseholes.

I imagine for a moment that I’ve tied some fishing wire between two trees on opposite sides of the path and have managed to slice a bastard motorcyclist’s head off on his return trip but as much as this image pleases me I have to accept, at the same time, that killing someone is just as illegal as riding a motorbike in a public reserve – possibly even more so – and while I may consider the activity of collecting the fishing wire, searching for the right spot, tying the appropriate knots and sitting down anticipating the end result to be fun, others might find it disturbing. It may even make them angry. And contemplating this allows me to get some insight into the motorcyclist’s motives and by the time we reach the playground I have considered that I may have found a way to make my peace with them.

motor3Archie and Lewis high-tail it towards the twirly-wirly slide and although Lewis had the head-start Archie cuts him off and gets to the ladder first. Lewis stops short and screams, ‘ARCHIE!’ and seeing the potential of the situation I yell, ‘Lewis, it’s okay you’ll both get turns, you’ll both get lots and lots of turns and if you yell and get angry you’ll just ruin it for yourself and…’

It’s too late. He’s lost it. Lewis is now a Gatling Gun spraying the slide with pieces of bark and debris and I have no choice but to scoop him up and carry him to the park bench and wait for the kicking and screaming to subside while I watch Tyson oohing-and-ahhing at the falling leaves and feel the pleasant breeze on my baldness and try to not debate with myself if Lewis is a more difficult child because I don’t pay him enough attention or because I intervene on his activities too much and pay him more attention than is actually healthy.

Ten minutes pass before Lewis and Archie are best friends again – squealing and hollering and egging each other on. Lewis screams, ‘Watch Dad!’ and hurls himself with enthusiasm down the twirly-wirly slide but half-way disaster strikes – Lewis’s leg sticks to the side and holds its place as the rest of his body folds over and sends him into a death roll to the bottom. For a moment I consider my options – should I run to him and pick him up and hug him and sit with him and tell him it’s going to be okay or should I wait and let him work it out himself to toughen him up a little and build some independence skills and will either way make any difference to the Lewis-centered behavioral issues I’m dealing with and hey, are they behavioral issues at all or just normal behaviors related to the developmental stages of little boys and why is there a fishy taste in my mouth, I mean I ate some tuna yesterday but I’ve eaten so much since then and flossed and gurgled Listerine….

Lewis is standing in front of me covered in debris and holding a medium-sized stick. He points it towards me, adopts the pose of a UFC wrestler and yells, ‘This is my powerrrr!’ and then runs off to the slide to start all over again. He is a stubborn little bugger but it suddenly occurs to me that in this circumstance, the stubbornness is good.

As I remember a blog post by Teacher Tom the playground’s circular swing creaks loudly in the wind and moves a poofteenth in its circumvolution and a strange calm overwhelms me. My children are influenced by many things and these many things – some of which have been right there from the time of their conception and are more powerful than I could ever be in shaping them – are continually circling, minimizing and maximizing, working towards a balance and my boys are being shaped by the world as much as they are shaping themselves against it and – just maybe – I simply need to watch them more, relax and enjoy it, head off the occasional extreme and let the process take its course.

Another loud creak confirms it for me – too much parental intervention can offset the balance. I can’t stop Lewis from being stubborn anymore than my parents could stop me from imagining a headless motorcyclist and a flaming Dominatrix into my writing. This is what we are and while we may not please everyone and even inflame some people and infuriate others the world and all its influences will shape us, as we shape ourselves against it, and we will find our place.

In the distance I hear the buzzing of a motorcycle. It’s hurtling towards us as Tysons and Lewis and Archie hurtle down the slide and my mind finally stops hurtling inside itself for once and plays out a pleasing scene – I am walking alone looking for some appropriately placed trees on either side of the motorcycle-shredded path. In my hand I hold a nice length of fishing wire…

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