Tuesday, 5 July 2016

8 going on 18

My boy is 8 years old now, soon to become 9. He is busy with his school work, sports, and friends. What should have been a blissful pre-teen period for us has become an anxious anticipation of the next tantrum. He is an angel for a moment, and a sanity-defying monster the next. I have heard horror stories about the teen ages from other parents. But I am definitely not prepared for an 8 year-old behaving like an 18-year old in terms of mood swings and temper tantrums.

I and my husband are at our wit's end on how to deal with this. Our boy is hyper-active (physically and mentally). He way ahead of his peers in his knowledge (in any subject), and constantly challenges us with increasingly complex questions. We are so proud of him. But we are definitely not proud of the dark side that he has started showing us, more and more often.

When I think about the whole picture, I realize that maybe he is not getting a 1-on-1 time with us any more. Because of the increased activities in his life, he has free time only on the weekends. That is when I insist that he spend some time catching up with his school work, and other reading. He also wants to spend some time playing with his neighborhood friends, whom he can meet only over the weekends. And he also wants to spend some time watching TV, which he is denied over the week. The end result is that there is absolutely no time to communicate with us.

I came up with a simple solution for that. Have dinner away from home every Friday evening with a strictly 1-on-1 time for us. Let me explain.

My boy is out of the house every day from 6.30 AM to 9.00 PM. After he is home, he is just ready to gobble down his dinner and head to sleep. But on Fridays, he looks forward to be able to stay up a little later than usual because he does not have to go anywhere on Saturdays. However, on Fridays, he is so exhausted, that he ends up going to bed a little earlier than usual. I thought to tap on the 'relaxing mood' that he gets into on Fridays. So since a few weeks, I and my husband pick him up from his Gymnastics practice, and go out for dinner on Fridays. Any small place works for us. We have only 3 criteria: decent food, decent place to sit, and ABSOLUTELY NO ELECTRONIC INTERFERENCE. The last bit is really important. We are not supposed to even look at our cell phones/tablets/laptops etc. during this little dinner meet. we ignore all phone calls and just concentrate on talking to each other. About everything and anything. We don't force our boy to talk about his school. We don't even force him to talk. Sometimes he is just content to listen to us discuss bigger things happening around us. For example, the drought-like situation that we are in. Or the budget planning we would have to do before we could start some redecorations at home. He does not participate, but he is always involved. He has no other options - he cannot immerse himself in an electronic game, nor can he poke his nose in a book while we wait for our food. Sometimes he wants to talk about all that's happening in his little world. That's when we really get to understand the little dilemmas he gets into and solves on his own or with his friends. These snippets are precious. They reassure us that no matter how he misbehaves, he does have integrity. His values are enough to make him a good human being. Our little dinner time gets over in an hour. But that hour means everything for us. We have been able to reconnect with our youngster.

Have his temper tantrums reduced? Has his moody behaviour changed? No.
But we seem to understand him more, and seem to accept his behaviour more. Because we are convinced that he has the capacity to become an extremely charming human being. And that gives us faith that his moody behaviour is only a phase.

1 comment:

Peeves said...

Woow. This is beautiful! A good way too to spend time with the 8-year old. I am sure he's gonna turn out to be a charming, handsome, extremely intelligent, but also a caring young man.