“You did it on purpose!” he wailed. “You’re the meanest person in the world!” Our au pair looked relieved. Yesterday, she was the meanest person in the world and the day before that, one of his classmates was.
“I guess I stole your title,” I said to her over the screaming.
She smiled, “I just feel bad for him. He seems to have all the meanest people in his life.”
I want to be very clear. Not only did I not knock over Zachary’s structure, I was not even within ten feet of it when it happened. If we must lay blame, the fault lies with gravity, and while I am happy to take it up with Sir Issac Newton, I will not do shit for him when he is melting down over a pile of blocks. It was also not my fault when the rocket-shaped challah that he made in preschool broke in two. I was in the driver’s seat. He was in the third row. He broke the damned thing just after I buckled him in but before I started the car. Perhaps if he had nicely asked for help, I would have come back and helped him secure the two pieces, but he opted for a level four hissy fit, instead. And that’s how one of the pieces ended up on the floor of the minivan, where he watched it on the entire drive home through paroxysms of bread-induced grief.
We know the signs, J and I. Increased tantrums, low tolerance for frustration, plain old-fashioned meanness. Yep. Zachary is going through a cognitive burst.
You see, in our house, before some major intellectual breakthrough (if I may use that term on a person under the age of seventeen), we experience upheaval. His emotions are trying to catch up with his brain and are scared shitless by the whole, “Crap, I’m growing up” phenomenon. And so he becomes impossible to deal with, losing his shit continually for a week or a month or however long it takes him to process the development.
This is why you will never find me homeschooling. I have way too much of a disincentive to teach him anything. I would spend all my time trying to prevent him from learning in hopes of maintaining a pleasant home environment.
(Also, I would shoot myself in the foot just to get to go the emergency room and escape the children for a few hours.)
This time, however, I think I know what brought on the uncontrollable mania/outbursts of fury. Zachary is graduating from preschool in a couple of weeks. And, while he pretends to be all sanguine about it, he is not a huge fan of the unknown, transitions, or having to make new friends. What he is a fan of is his current teacher, with whom he has been since we moved here from London last spring. The teacher he will be leaving behind as he moves out into the wild blue yonder.
If my posts have seemed insufferably weepy lately, that is due in large part to the fact that I write them at night, as I sit around mooning over the fact that my baby is growing up. He is moving past the stage where I can go into the school and enlighten the teachers on just what his issues are and enlist their help in guiding his social forays. His kindergarten teacher is there to make sure No Child is Left Behind, but I am reasonably sure that they are talking about math skills there, not Entering a Group Game 101. I am freaked out by the challenges he will face, although he himself has shown great signs of ability to handle it all.
I just hope none of the meanest people in the world are there in his kindergarten class.