jen groeber: mama art

4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.

I Don’t Like 7-Year-Old Boys and Other Zen Thoughts

Can you pick out the 7-year-old in this picture?  Summer 2014

Can you pick out the 7-year-old in this picture?
Summer 2014

 

I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I don’t like 7 year-old boys. As a 43-year-old adult female, this is neither a shocker nor a tragedy. I mean, it’s a problem easily solved. I’m a grown-up. I have a license. I have a car. I can drive away from every 7-year-old I meet.

Fute 7 year-olds, unite!  Spring 2014

Future 7-year-olds, unite.
Spring 2014

But the problem is, I live with a 7-year-old boy. And just when he stops being a 7-year-old boy I will have a 7-year-old boy/girl twin combo cohabiting with me, both annoying and crazy, looking to me for guidance. And if I survive that? The reward? Wait for it… a 7-year-old girl. Which I’m expecting to be an improvement on the current situation, but still. It’s not ideal.

I should have known this day was coming. Honestly. My friends with boys? I remember watching their kissable, squeezable, adorable 6-year-old boys go through the change. These kids would be all Dr. Jekyll kindness and respectfulness and then BAM! One Lego-Superman-Ninja birthday party later and I’d be looking at my friends thinking, “How are you not noticing that this kid is a total punk?” Straight up Mr. Hyde. And I mean, every time.

The boy who’d delighted in reading to the younger kids was suddenly pretend shooting them with his gun-finger and maniacally yelling, “You’re a loser, dead cootie face!” And if I told him to stop he’d look at me with mean-hate eyes or start to cry. Or both. Unacceptable.

So the 7-year-old I live with? It’s like sometimes he has the evil face of the Joker, the violent intent of Jeffrey Dahmer and the snarkiness of a fifteen year-old girl with PMS.

Today he told me I was mean, that I had a muffin top and that Dad was stronger than me. Which is all true, actually. But still. Cuts like a knife. He knows what will hurt me most. Yesterday I leaned in to give him a kiss and he walked away. Are you feeling this? This has become 7th grade all over again; living with a 7-year-old is like seeing my greatest vulnerabilities and ugliness mirrored in his face.

Up until a few short months ago this was the kid who would invariably slice the love cookie exactly down the middle, striving always to be fair and just. If you asked him who he loved more, he’d say he loved his father and I the same amount. Always. Even if it wasn’t true, he aimed for the middle ground, the place of peace.

But now he says things that are mean and if you call him on it he cries and if you capitulate he acts like he’s doing you a favor. He’s a smooth operator, that one.

And so maybe I’m mourning the loss of the loving little boy who’d hold my face and beg me to lay in his bed for a few minutes more. And maybe I’m mourning the end of the days when I understood how he was feeling, why he was sad, what he wanted, and when I had the power to give it to him. It’s been suggested that I miss my baby, that it’s time for him to be a boy. It’s been said that I can’t control everything. Ouch.

So last night we read this book called Zen Shorts that we found at the Salvation Army while looking for good beach reads. There’s a Panda bear and three kids and each kid learns a Buddhist or Taoist  lesson. Give freely, allow it to just be without calling it good or bad, and leave the burden behind. Let go.

Afterwards I lay down with each child and sang a song in the dark. My 7-year-old wanted to be first, then he wanted to be second. He wanted this song, until I’d sung one line and then he wanted the other song. No, the other song. I could feel his agitation, hear the chokey voice, feel the tension in his chest. On the verge of saying, “Gees! What do you WANT?!” I suddenly thought, “Being seven could not be easy.  This does not look easy.” So I sang him the song he wanted, tucked him in, kissed him good-night.

This morning I went out for a morning paddle on my board. It was glorious, breezy, beautiful. And as I paddled back into the cove, I saw my husband up the hill on the deck, watching me through binoculars, my youngest sitting on the railing. And then my 7-year-old came, running down the hill, across the street, through the field to the beach, just as I pulled up on the sand. “Hey, Mom,” he said. And he grabbed my paddle and marched ahead of me, carrying it back to the house.

Enough, I thought. This small moment is enough.

image

Making his way in this world the best he can
Summer 2014

 

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37 comments on “I Don’t Like 7-Year-Old Boys and Other Zen Thoughts

  1. Burns the Fire
    July 3, 2014

    You just opened my heart like a door.

    • jgroeber
      July 7, 2014

      Seriously, your comments are like little precious gems I treasure. (Thank you.)

  2. Ann St. Vincent
    July 3, 2014

    This is wonderful. Mine just turned 6 and I’m already seeing little glimpses if this…he pretended to shoot a pregnant woman out of the car last week (he couldn’t see she was, but still). Thanks for writing a lovely piece.

    • jgroeber
      July 7, 2014

      Today was a day when he returned to me whole. So even when you’re in the thick of it, hang on and he just might return. (Ugh for the finger-gun. Just ugh.)
      Thank you for stopping by.

  3. dvb415
    July 3, 2014

    I just wrote this beautiful long reply, but I think I sent it to Saturn.

    One word: AMAZING

    • jgroeber
      July 7, 2014

      Ha! Lucky Saturn. And thank you for the comment. I bet your long version contained some sage advice like how his beautiful spirit is just momentarily dormant and if I just wait calmly enough, he’ll return.

  4. Margie S
    July 3, 2014

    Sorry to read! My 3 year old son was a challenge, now at age 12, he is a joy to be with! Don’t worry, it is temporary, he will come back to you, he already has in that small but wonderful moment. Now my 14 year old daughter……..

    • jgroeber
      July 7, 2014

      Don’t even get me started on the daughters! No way that’s going to be an easy row to hoe. (Perhaps I could have used a better choice of words…) ha! Good news about your son though. There’s hope then.

  5. kellylmckenzie
    July 3, 2014

    Awwwwww. You’ve taken me right back to those fieldtrip drives of hell. Horrid, horrid, horrid. A whole carload of 7 yearolds. At the same time. The armpit farting, the giggling, the name calling. Fast forward 11 years to today. Most of the same lads making a point of telling my son they want to come INSIDE the house to say hi to me. Me. Amazing. Hang in there kiddo. This too shall pass.

    • jgroeber
      July 7, 2014

      Ah, I always wonder how the cool high school Mamas got that way. Now I know. Prolonged exposure to armpit farting (and perseverance and humor, clearly.)

  6. Judi
    July 4, 2014

    I SO remember the tenderness of those little hands holding my face and the sweet, unabashed love that came with those kisses. Fast forward twenty years and I had that same wave come over me when my son, totally unsolicited and initiated by him, hugged me the other night. Maybe it’s dawning on him that in 11 days, when he and his wife begin the drive to their new home in Salt Lake City that these moments are going to be even fewer and oh so much farther between. Like Kelly, the armpit farting, smell-o-death gym bags and the “Don’t call out my name at soccer” are all things to be not just endured, but cherished. And yes, they will pass. All too quickly.

    • jgroeber
      July 7, 2014

      Thank you for that. I needed to be reminded to cherish even these days. And cheers to your boy headed off to Salt Lake City. As my obstetrician said as he stitched me up, “Ya done good.” 😉
      (And oh how I’m dreading the stinkiness. I know I shouldn’t, but I do!)

  7. mollytopia
    July 5, 2014

    Awesome awesome awesome. Anna just turned 10 and it’s like I suddenly live with a snarky Disney star. Except she doesn’t have any money, which makes it less fabulous. You’re a terrific mom in every way. I love all your posts. Keep singing to that boy, and give yourself a pat on the back from me : )

    • jgroeber
      July 7, 2014

      Oh, no! The snarky Disney star! You may just have to write a post about this, “My Life With a Snarky Disney Star.”
      So good to see you here. Really. Thank you. (And pat yourself on the back. No one likes to clean up after a SDS. Ack!)

  8. bethteliho
    July 8, 2014

    Jennifer? I seriously love you. Like, love you, love you. Like I want to have your babies. This is such a precious post, and you maintained the humor/sweetness ratio perfectly. I adore everything about it, but not just because your words are like candy…..because I have a seven year old boy RIGHT NOW, and you’re SO RIGHT. hahahaha. He’s such a little shit, and I mean that in the most affectionate way. I caught him the other day wiping a booger on the wall.

    WHAT? WHY? We have Kleenex. Hell, wipe it on your damn shirt. JUST NOT MY WALL, DUDE.

    My ten year old is an angel, until he’s not.

    BTW, are we FB friends? If not we need to remedy that. I shared this and you didn’t show up when I tried to tag you. I thought I had stalked you properly, but I guess not (?)

    Okay, I’m leaving your comment section for real now.

    Bye. *waves*

    • donofalltrades
      July 9, 2014

      I comment wherever I see a woman loving another woman. Bowchickabowwow!! Or something. Lol. I was a sweet 7 year old boy as I am currently a sweet 41 year old boy. Found you through Beth, so yay Beth. I have a three year old boy that’s my asshole. He’s been an asshiike since conception, for real.

      • jgroeber
        July 10, 2014

        Ha! This one was a Mama’s boy apparently. Now I worry for the neighbor’s cats and frogs in the yard. (And how in the world did Beth send you my way? That one is everywhere. (Thank goodness!)

  9. jgroeber
    July 9, 2014

    Ah, this comment is like champagne and chocolate and my favorite scones (and I LOVE scones.) So glad to know I’m not alone. The boogers, the talk of penises all the time, the instant cup-o-tears he chefs up when challenged. It’s the perfect storm. What will I do when they all hit puberty?!! I can’t change my 5 pm drinking rule. I just can’t.
    (Can I?)

  10. *waves* Are you hiding somewhere in my house?

    I have a seven year old boy, too, and so often I’m looking at him and wondering where my sweet boy is and why he gets so incredibly aggravated so quickly and why I can’t seem to please him, and why I feel like I’ve lost him, and now I know I’m not alone. I just read Beth’s comment, who by the way sent me here, and our boys are actually in real life friends, which makes me both happy and sad to hear that she and I and you are all experiencing this. I’m a little jealous that yours held your paddle. I’m pretty sure mine would look at it, roll his eyes and then head straight back to his room, but the yeah for moments that are enough.

    Having said that, he sat with me on the couch and watched “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” today and only complained about being bored once, so there’s that. I made him sit so that we were touching because a mom needs her snuggle, and I assured him nobody could see but us.

    You just got a new fan.

    • jgroeber
      July 10, 2014

      Ah, so glad to read this! I am not alone! Although this does suggest that I have about 16 months until I have two more seven-year-olds in the house.
      And may I recommend- the other day I swam out into the channel with a rip current to get a beach ball that he’d let go of. My friends stood on the shore talking about all the people who’d died doing that… and he was right there! So when I crawl/staggered back to the beach about 20 terrifying minutes later he sat on my lap (in front of an even cooler 9-year-old) for the rest of the day. Now, I almost killed myself, true. But he was an angel for, like, five hours! Jes’ sayin’. (And no, I didn’t save the gd beach ball.)

  11. jaklumen
    July 9, 2014

    I feel better now. A little bit.

    My 7-year old boy has autism, so… I have to dole out a little more patience. Yes, I’m way understating it.

    • jgroeber
      July 10, 2014

      A friend of mine just asked me if I ever noticed that exactly every three months our kids’ personalities totally change. Like, BANG! That was it. New kid. So the good news is that if that’s true, we all have to just wait a minute (or three months) for something new. Here’s to positive change! (Fingers crossed. Wishing you a boatload of patience.)

      • jaklumen
        July 10, 2014

        Thank you so much, for I need it right now. Our son is waking up at all hours of the night to tell us he’s hungry or he wants something to eat. He won’t eat at mealtimes at all.

  12. Donna Holland
    July 12, 2014

    Another Beth recruit here, I am madly in love with her, and since she is in love with you I kinda figured it was a no brainer. My asshole seven year olds are all grown up now. All I can say is love the hell out of that assholery…they grow up so fast xox

    • jgroeber
      July 12, 2014

      Exactly! I wish I had said that. Love the hell out of that assholery. Is douche-baggery a word? And I do have to say, maybe he felt the vibe of fifty moms (and dads) who agree with me out in the blogosphere from this post, but he’s been pretty adorable the last few days since posting. Who knew?
      And thanks for visiting. That Beth is amazing.

  13. naptimethoughts
    July 18, 2014

    I have had the exact same conversation with myself. I talk to myself a lot, it could be a problem, whatever. Anyhoo, I also hate 7 year old boys, but I hate 8 year old boys more. Plus, I currently have a 6 year old boy who is rapidly turning into a seven year old boy. He used to be so sweet… And I know it goes so fast and all of that, but he’s such a little prick. A lovable prick, but a prick all the same. I totally feel you.
    Yes. Douchebaggery is a word. A good word.

    • jgroeber
      July 19, 2014

      Oh, no. Please tell me eight-year-olds are better. Please, please, please. When we don’t want to say douchebag in front of our kids, we say, “He’s a D.B. Carl.” And we all know what that means! (And I definitely talk to myself. I think it’s what makes us bloggers. Ha!)

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  17. niczito
    January 20, 2015

    I feel this sentiment so deeply. Makes me laugh and tear up simultaneously. Such great perspective for me at work and at home!

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  20. Dawn Quyle Landau
    August 28, 2015

    I just adore you, and that 7 year old boy just about melted me… But I know what you mean. 😞 Gor the record, my 23 year old boy cut me deep yesterday ( and man do they get better at it!) and my newly 19 year old is leaving me for college in 10 days… And my 1 month old grandson just broke my heart! I hate to tell you that it never ends… But. Oh, and the girls? Wait til you hit 11. But I love you. xoxo

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