It’s been a minute since I last wrote a post that really fit into the Parenting area of this blog. It would’ve been even longer too, had it not been for my friend Carly from Mom Of Two Little Girls. Her oldest will be an eight year old in a few months, and Carly is already starting to see signs of the emotional roller coaster that seems to come with that number. She asked me to contribute to her post about what it’s like parenting a little one who’s experiencing the angst of this particular age. Once I’d sent her my piece based on my own (personal, and in no way professional) experience, she encouraged me to write a full post. So here we are. 😊
My eight year old
I don’t think one can ever be truly ready for eight. I know I wasn’t. All those emotions, the super sensitivity… No one had warned me, it just happened. My little person turned eight, and she was feeling all the feelings. I thought we were alone in this, until a chat with some close mommy blogger friends, where I learned that it was indeed a thing!
It was on a school day that I got my first glimpse of it. I was marking the exercise she’d just completed (we homeschool), and was pointing out where she’d made a mistake (you read correctly, one single mistake) when I looked up and saw her eyes fill with tears, before one sad tear made it’s way down her cheek.
A little insight into why this was a big deal – Zee has never been a cryer; she didn’t throw tantrums, or cry in an attempt to get her way. She’s always been a genuinely happy, sweet little person. This ‘overreaction’ caught me off guard. Her response when I asked what was wrong? “Nothing.” My child who had just the other day been unbothered by most things, was now hurt and upset over the smallest things.
I didn’t handle it as well as I could have at first. I may have looked irritated, and been dismissive of this new behavior that I didn’t understand. Soon after though, I stopped and reminded myself that what we consider small things may actually be huge to her. Here she was, growing up – not a baby anymore, but not a big girl either, just somewhere in between. All of this, combined with the pressure that is schoolwork these days, and the fact that she’d experienced the most painful loss only a year earlier (one day, I may write about it), meant that her emotions were in turmoil, and she was feeling a little fragile.
Adults have bad days; we get tired and frustrated, and sometimes we feel like crying too. Surely then, we should understand when our children feel that way. After all, they’re just smaller versions of us. With Zee, this phase continued all through that year – she was still the good, kind, happy child, but some days there were tears because she was extra sensitive and unsure of how else to express herself; there were so many emotions… but at least I could be there for her. I kept reminding myself to be gentler, and to just be there for her through those moments, usually with a big hug or a few encouraging words. Sometimes that’s all they need. And it definitely worked better than grumpy mommy, quickly dismissing what her child was going through.
The good news? The phase is just that, a phase. It may come at eight, or maybe a bit earlier or a while later, but it doesn’t last forever. On our end, my always cheerful, funny little bunny is back, and I actually haven’t seen any tears in the longest time. If you’re currently in the midst of it with your little one, I hope it will all be okay soon. They’re dealing with a lot, they’re growing both physically and mentally, and sometimes it’s all a little overwhelming for them. My advice to you mommy, based purely on what worked for me? Be there, hugs at the ready. This too shall pass.