good flower bad butterfly

My son is brave, impulsive, good-natured, loving, willful, his energy ramped to 100% for every minute he’s awake. I guess in reading the above list I’m a lot like him. A few episodes in our last twenty four hours:

Yesterday I am forced to truncate his dessert in a diner and take him out to the car. He’s angry, yelling. I’m gentle but firm. As I straighten from placing him in the carseat and swing the door shut he looks at me with angry tears in his eyes and yells, “Everything out of your mouth is CRAP!” Of course I’m dying laughing, internally, but it’s not really funny to talk to someone that way, and it’s definitely not okay to laugh at someone when they’re angry. The door shutting allows me to keep my smile to myself. When I come back to the car with my purse, coat, other child, etc. Nels is wretched, his face tear-stained. “I’m sorry I said what you said was crap,” he mourns. I say, “Thank you for the apology Nels,” and reach a hand back to him. He and I forgive one another a hundred percent and move on.

This morning he takes me on a tour of the garden. He shows me the new cucumber, the one bean on the bush (he can spy the very first new growth of anything). He remembers, in our unsorted and untidy yard, where things were planted. “I planted an apple there,” he tells me. “The love-in-a-mist is blooming. Look what happened to the snapdragons!” “The tomatoes are having Good Times.” (yes, he actually said this). “Sweet peas, calendula…” (both blooming fresh). “The amaranth, and…” he trails off, pointing. “Nicotiana,” I remind him (a real success story – so far – as they’ve come back from near-death via slug).

This evening we play a game I play with my children (one he enjoys more than my daughter), a simple exercise in reverse psychology: I say, “Don’t come over and push me off the chair and climb on top of me and kiss me on the lips, I’m really busy right now.” He starts laughing right away, head thrown back, runs over, pushes me, and tries to wrestle on top of me. He is strong, with a spry strength in his long-bellied little boy body. What I like, what I couldn’t and don’t do, is that he devotes all his energy, balls-out, into trying to overcome me. And laughs and laughs and kisses me, finally, and he smells of the pint of raspberries he bought (with his own garden earnings!) from our Farmers Market, and ate almost every one in the car.

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