I hear him through the screen door. "... he's hopping a grasshopper! He's hopping come look! There's a grasshopper! On our driveway!" By the time I unlatch the hook and join him on the back stoop he's already gone. "Aw," he said. "He already hopped away. You missed him."
Lately it seems I miss everything fun.
Yesterday from the backseat I heard a story that would have made Curious George proud. "I was chasing Dog-Dog. He went through the back fence, I went through the back fence too. Then I fell down and my shoe got stuck and I got stuck too." I remembered the moment. I hadn't taken the time to listen to how he'd landed in the part of the yard that is off-limits to him. Instead I scolded him, then climbed after him impatiently when I realized he couldn't find his way back to safety. Mosquitos descended on both him and the baby, who was riding in one arm while I picked Asher up with the other. We had somewhere to be, both children were getting bitten by bugs, Asher wasn't following the rules, and I was frustrated. I'd completely overlooked his adventure.
Most of the time, I miss the adventure.
He wants to pour out his milk onto his plate, to see what he can make with it. I take away the cup. He wants to bang the piano keys, just to hear the noise created by his own hands. I tell him no. He wants to pour soapy water out of the bathtub, to hear it splash onto the tile. I tell him bathtime is over. He wants to make a mess, make some noise, have some fun. I want to keep our home intact.
Last night we went toe-to-toe over bedtime. He screamed the entire twenty minutes home in the car, partly because it made his brother laugh and partly because it bothered me. Then he spent the next hour running away from me and doing the opposite of whatever I asked. We were both relieved when Brian got home. "I like Daddy better," Asher announced calmly to no one in particular.
How did we end up at odds with one another? How am I always on the wrong end of everything fun? This tiny boy, with whom I have rocked and eaten and read and gone to playgroups and poked around town with so much joy for the past two years ... why is there such contention between us now?
This morning he said very matter-of-factly, "I go to my room and I slam the door because I choose NOT to cooperate with you." And I was reminded once again that Erickson was right. Asher is in the height of learning autonomy, of distinguishing himself from his environment (namely, me). We are SUPPOSED to be at odds with one another, for now. It is a sign of a healthy childhood that he is resisting with such gusto. But friends, it is wearing me out. I miss the little boy who liked nothing better than curling up in his mother's lap. I miss having fun together.
Contention is not my forte.