Warning: New Phase Approaching

The Beaner has been such a gem since school started at the beginning of September. I've given credit to the Feingold Diet for this golden behavior, but I probably haven't given enough credit to his new nanny, Shawna. They have a great relationship, and he really seems to be blooming under her care—not least because the two of them talk to each other all day long. It sounds simple and obvious, but she talks to him. She doesn't scold him like a parent or herd him like a sheep; she engages him in conversation. It's a small thing that makes a big difference.

Having said that, however, I think the honeymoon is almost over, and a new phase is imminent. I can see it in a little extra clinginess, a little less body control, and the huge leap he's made lately in language development. Now, I only have a little less than four years of experience in anticipating phases, but in those four years I have noticed, almost entirely in hindsight, that when a developmental leap forward happens, an emotional step back also occurs. Add in a dose of change (e.g., starting school, getting a new nanny—no matter how great either of them are), and there's a storm coming.

If I'm right, and I'm finally anticipating a new phase rather than living through it and only *then* identifying it, the question now becomes: Does this foreknowledge help in any way? Can I help make the recession, as it were, shorter and shallower? I hope so. If nothing else, I can be more patient. I can take him aside and talk to him. I can assure him that I'm not going anywhere, that Daddy and I absolutely love him, and, as Al and I told him tonight, with increased ability comes increased responsibility.

He wasn't too clear on this concept, so I explained that as his brain and his body get bigger and he's able to do more things, he also has to build up his self-control muscles in order to be able to support the bigger body and bigger brain. He has to work harder to put his new abilities to good use (and to not put them to silly, hurtful, or otherwise negative use). I think he got a little of the idea, at least; it's a message I plan to repeat in as many ways as I can think of, while also telling him how proud I am of the big words he's using correctly, of the art he's producing, of the human being he's becoming. And as I say these things to him, I'll also be reminding myself what a great kid I have, no matter how badly things seem to be going at that moment. I hope it works, for all of us.

Posted by Lori in parenthood at 9:00 PM on November 9, 2008