Since Atti is on his own unique path of development, I never know what to expect out of this kid. He’s nearly six years old and I still can’t keep him from playing in the kitty’s water dish, and then he’ll crawl over to me and we’ll work on learning addition in kisses. He can read like crazy and sings any song he hears more than twice, and yet he won’t even glance in the potty chair’s direction and throws screaming hissy fits when I turn the music off. He’s an eight year old and a three year old trapped in a five year old body.
But it kind of makes sense. For most of a kid’s early life, they learn through using their body. They conduct little experiments with their toys and learn how the world works. They learn cause and effect, they learn consequences, and as they grow their behavior matures because of what they’ve learned. Atti hasn’t had any of those experiences.
Some of those lessons he’s picked up along the way, but his knowledge is spotty. He’s like someone who didn’t go to school and is instead working their way through all the books of the library, one shelf at a time. In certain areas he’s an expert, but until he makes it all the way through the dewey decimal system, he’s going to be surprisingly ignorant of some subjects.
There are a lot of frustrations with this situation – helping people understand him and what he is capable of, getting him to behave appropriately, learning how to make school work for him – but it’s also pretty fun to be constantly surprised by this brilliant and creative little guy. With there being no really thing as “age appropriate” for him, I just get to keep giving him information and see what he can absorb. And then be delighted when new, more developmentally mature behavior comes along.
Atti’s latest development is trying to be sneaky. When you tell him he can’t have something, he’ll try and wait you out as he inches closer and closer, hoping you won’t notice until it’s too late. We were playing in bed together the other day and he was trying to get to something on my bedside table which I refused to let him have. He claimed he was done playing and crawled off the other side of the bed, and then I watched from over the book I was reading as the top of his little head bounced up and down, scooting from around the foot of the bed to my bedside table where he tried to stay low enough that I wouldn’t see him and he could still get what he wanted.
It’s those moments that really test your parenting mettle. You can’t laugh. No matter how badly you want to. You have to pretend you’re angry at him for disobeying you. But oh my gosh I love it. I love getting to see how his mind works, I love watching him solve problems, I love his determination. I just don’t love that it’s against me.
I really don’t have to worry too much, though, because I have a big advantage most other parents don’t when their kids try and pull things over on them. My child doesn’t have much motor control. Which really REALLY cuts down on the sneakiness. When you cross the house with a “SLAP, drag. SLAP, drag. SLAP, drag.” he’s not going to get too much passed me.
The other day he threw his kindle so it automatically went to time out. (We have a zero tolerance policy about throwing screens.) So I put it up high, set him in front of his other toys, and got back to work. After a few minutes I heard a GIANT CRASH. I went out to the living room and there was Atti, standing up on the couch, trying to reach the kindle. He had used the cord of the desk fan to pull himself up and in the process it dropped to the floor with a ferocity that popped the cover off and sent it flying.
Again, I had to bite my lip, furrow my brow to make an angry face and properly punish him for his disobedience, but inside I was laughing my head off. Both out of pride over his massive physical feat – pulling himself up on the couch, pulling himself to standing, reaching for the kindle – and because it is freaking hilarious trying to watch him be sneaky. Kids can be so smart and so dumb at the same time.