Meet my eldest son, his name is Oliver Jonah Idris Lewis-Quinn (I don’t often get to say his full name, so any excuse and I do, hehehe).
He is Seven years old. Who knew Seven would be such a significant age? Everyone knows about the terrible twos and when you have a child you then learn about the year of the threenager. Pre teens and the teenagers years are pretty well documented and to be fair, I think we as parents actually remember these. However the Stroppy Sevens as I now know them to be called are shrouded in secrecy.
I plan to break this secrecy, let’s hope I don’t break the Internet or make the world explode or something just as dramatic as a consequence. First of, let me tell you about before…
Before Oliver was Happy, Smiley, Giggley, Caring, Loving, Polite, Fun, Full of energy, Creative, Adventurous and so much more. Now… Hmmm well he is still all of these things, but these things surface way less frequently than I would like. Now he is Secretive, Moody, Shouty, Frustrated, Angry, Annoyed, Grumpy and sometimes damn right Rude and Ungrateful.
Now don’t get me wrong Oliver is a lovely boy and I am so proud of how he is developing into a young man. I don’t know if it’s the fact he has been so totally awesome in the past means I am totally unprepared for this monster that keeps surfacing. I am going to write a list of some of the things that have started happening that I have taken me by surprise.
- Having to have the last word
- Slamming doors
- Stamping upstairs
- Muttering under his breath
- Refusal to take what I say as fact *
- No longer asking permission
- Tone of voice
- Refusal to carry out basic hygiene requests
There are also the classic one liners
- “I don’t know”
- “Don’t ask me”
- “In a minute”
- “No I didn’t”
- “Gosh, this is the worst day of my life” *
Now I just want to give some examples of the ones I have marked with an asterisk.
Refusal to take what I say as fact.
Let’s go back to Father’s Day July 2015.
This is Oliver dressed up as a waiter, ready to take his Daddy’s breakfast order. It was his idea and he made a menu that he read and everything was utterly adorable! What you don’t see here. Is the disagreement we had with regards to what waiters wear. It went something like this
O– Mum can I wear my wedding suit
M– Yes, but just the trousers, shirt and tie
O– But Mum, I neeeeeeeed to wear my jacket, that’s what waiters wear
M– They don’t darling they wear white shirts and ties
O– Muuuuum, they doooooooon’t they wear jackets, I’ve seeeeeeen them and they have that cloth over their arm
M– Oliver they don’t, you will be too hot anyway and I don’t want you to spill anything on your jacket. Your shirt and tie will be fine and we can fold a tea towel over your arm
O– But Muuuuuuuuum
M– Oliver please I don’t want to argue, you will look just like a waiter, I promise
O– How would you know you have never even been to a restaurant. *starts sulking*
M– Errrr, excuse me that was a bit rude. I know I don’t go out much but I have been to restaurants and I know what they wear
O– but muuuuuuum
M– OLIVER, that’s it I am not arguing with you about this anymore.
O– FINE, I’ll Google it
I was in shock, I couldn’t believe that he wouldn’t just take my word for it. Then I realised that actually even though it’s a pretty annoying trait to have now as a seven years old. If he keeps the ability to question what he is being told and not just follow blindly, who knows where it could lead.
Anyway, we googled ‘What do waiters wear’ and he got so excited to show me the pictures of waiters wearing suit jackets, except when I looked they were waistcoats, we decided we were both kind of right and decided it was best he didn’t wear his suit jacket this time.
“This is the worst day of MY life”
– Oliver Lewis- Quinn
At times over the past few months this has almost been a catch phrase for Oliver. The smallest of requests can cause this line to come spiralling out of his mouth. Things such as
- Not being allowed a lollipop before 12am on a Saturday
- Being asked to put his shoes on
- Being asked to shower before school
- Being asked to get ready for Drama club
- Being told we are going to a supermarket to get food
Generally I try and make a joke out of it and say that his life is pretty awesome if that is the worst day he has EVER had. He certainly has some real #firstworldproblems. We normally end up talking about all the things he is actually lucky to have. I tell him, I understand that sometimes he wasn’t to do stuff and that is fine, but he has to work on how he gets that across to people. I’m pretty lucky as he is generally quite open to conversations like this. I really really really hope that is something that stays with him as he grows older.
With all this going on it is sometimes easy to feel you are losing your little one. That they are becoming a teenager before their years, that they will be packing up shop and moving out at 13. But rest assured it is perfectly normal and there is actually a scientific reason why it happens. To put it very simply. They get an influx of hormones and they have not developed the cognitive ability to express what is wrong.
Have you ever had it where your child is really Upset/Angry/Grumpy and you try to talk to them and ask the what’s wrong and they say “I don’t know” it is actually more than likely, they genuinely don’t know what it wrong. The only thing I can liken it to as a woman is when you get some crazy hormonal surge before a period and you turn into either Godzilla or are in floods of tears for what appears to be no reason. The same way you don’t know what’s up, but eventually work out it down to hormones and then you can deal with the situation a little more rationally. That’s effectively what’s happen to our little pickles, BUT the difference is they have no idea why and they don’t have the privilege of being able to rationalise it.
So it’s our job to help them. In the past I have allocated pillows for punching, a corner where Oliver could take himself and no one could talk to him until he was ready, I also bought him a diary. All of these things worked for a short while, but as he is constantly growing and developing we have to keep growing and developing our tactics too. Well that’s all my waffling done, for those that are interested in reading the Science behind this, check out Jean Piaget’s Four stages of development theory, both the terrible twos and the stroppy Seven’s are in there… Have a read because it might just prepare you for the next one too.
I must say as a parent this age is hard. Every age has it challenges, but I think when you know that a behaviour is normal it allows you to relax. Every now again when you worry you are doing it all wrong your kids often have a way of showing you that it is perfect for them. My moment came the afternoon after Oliver’s end of year party, he told me about this song they had been listening to, the lyrics go something like
I think I found myself a cheerleader, she’s always there when I need her.
Oliver looked at me and said “Mum you’re my cheerleader”. I knew then despite all the outburst and negative behaviour. He is a good egg. So why did no one tell me about the stroppy Seven’s? I don’t know, but I hope this put a few Mummy’s and Daddy’s minds at rest. You are doing a great job and This too shall pass.