Griff is so moody lately. He's acting like a teenaged girl with PMS; he has a hair-trigger temper, yells at us and his brothers, argues with us frequently, bursts into tears just as frequently.
The arguments are crazy. One evening, he wasn't happy with being asked to bathe, so he kept seeking out the other parent to argue his case to them, back and forth. Just. Freaking. Get. In. The. Shower!!!! He gets really stubborn lately, insisting that HE knows the right information and that WE do not know...even though he's totally wrong. I don't want to get bogged down in debate, but it seems almost impossible to avoid it with him right now. He seems really hell-bent on doing exactly what he wants all the time, and if he's told it's not something we're willing to support (like having ice cream right that minute, no waiting) or if we try to encourage him to compromise for the sake of having harmony (like not running in circles around the basement and getting in the way of his brother, who was already riding his bike there), he either pouts or very defiantly does the thing he wanted to do. He's really not much of a "team player" in the family at the moment, which is frustrating because he's usually not like this.
The tears often take me completely by surprise. One day he found a couple of dead beetles in a corner of the basement and burst into tears. He was heartbroken that these beetles, which appeared to him to be babies, didn't get to live their lives.
At other times he's totally, almost annoyingly helpful or lovey-dovey. The intensity of all of these emotions and the pendulum effect of them is what reminds me of bad PMS. I'm wondering if we're gearing up for a BIG growth spurt. Or is this just part of being seven? Or both?
I'm not sure how to wade through this. He's often a really unpleasant person to be around, in a nagging kind of way. We've gotten more bossy with him because he doesn't seem to respond to nice requests or logical explanations any more - I have to be really firm in a very different way than I am with his younger brothers. It doesn't feel good but I don't know what else to do. I know it's all normal, but that doesn't tell me much about how best to respond. I feel like I keep getting into situations where we're pitting our wills against each other and I'm unwilling to budge on some things, so he sulks and cries and argues, and if he refuses to do something I feel like we have to yell at him and/or threaten something (like an earlier bedtime or taking away screen time) to get results. That kind of rule by demonstration of power over him is not how I want to live, but maybe it's just how things have to be with an older child? I don't know, gentle discipline in the older childhood years is totally foreign to me, and most parenting websites and books are focused on early childhood.
I knew today would be rocky; everybody went to bed late last night, which would mean overtired, moody kids today. Sure enough, a small thing turned into a big meltdown, and Griff glared and sulked and broadcast his anger loud and clear for me to receive. I eventually asked him if he'd like to paint with me, and suggested we paint "mad". What color is mad? He said black, I suggested red, too. We both added purple to our palettes. By the time we dipped brushes in paint, nobody was angry any more, although we did our best to make strokes that looked angry to us.
Griff borrowed my camera, reassuring me that he would wear the strap around his neck, and documented our work. His contribution for the day is his favorite image, cropped and enhanced. He's becoming handy with PhotoShop. Anger has Xs and slashes, muddied blacks and purples and reds mixed together, sharp spots and broken hearts.
Isn't it interesting that we often use the same colors for love?
(Fittingly, Griff himself put this word in the hat on day 1 of our challenge.)