The Fifth Grade Blues

A light flipped in our house this month.  I have to admit, I didn’t see it coming. After an insanely busy summer where I didn’t see my family much, especially my kiddos the start of the school year seemed a bit rocky but I chalked it up to a new teacher and new routine.  I cracked up at the more mature vocabulary words that were now common vernacular and smiled big at the fact that my fifth grader and I now wear the same shoe size and can share some clothes.

The rolling of the eyes, large sighs and slow to respond attitude came on slowly.  It would creep up randomly here or there.  The football season is always so busy that we can all act out of exhaustion at any given time.  Top that with swim lessons continuing this year and it seemed natural that some days would be met with a less that excited attitude about running around after school yet again.  A busy schedule was over loaded, that would be frustrating for anyone.

The warning signs were there, but I ignored them…and this week it all imploded. My 10 year old has entered “preadolescence”.  “The Lover” transitioned to “The Individual” as explained in Wild Things The Art of Maturing Boys. I had read this book when by two were younger and found it helpful, so I pulled it off the shelves and discovered it is still packed with wisdom.

Ralphie Parker from A Christmas Story paints a vivid image of The Individual explains Wild Things authors James and Thomas. This stage of life is known as a time boys test limits and become more self aware.  As I read the pages I discovered my oldest is deep into this stage of life and our youngest is right at his heels.  This sent me into a time of mourning which was also predicted in this book.  As stressful as those toddler years were, no longer will life be filled with time outs and a simple “no”.  From now on it will be about testing boundaries and asserting authority.

I have always been told that I will be thankful to have boys as they age because things will be easier.  If that is true, mom’s of daughters I will be praying for YOU! In all seriousness though, the task of raising boys to be men is a blessing.  It is an honor to be gifted this opportunity.  It is a calling I never feel capable of fulfilling alone and when I remember the big picture it all makes sense.  Lean into God, lean into Ordell and remember grace covers it all.  So how do I stay there?

A friend suggested I watch my boys while they sleep.  What is it about a sleeping child that makes everything seem right in the world?  As I stood there and watched that fifth grader I hadIMG_0756 gone head to head with just a few hours earlier I couldn’t help but pray.  I prayed for the wisdom to know what to do next.  I prayed for the strength to do and say whatever needed to be done well.  I prayed for us both to survive fifth grade.

(first football season)

If you are feeling the blues about your son, or stare in bewilderment at times (as I do often) you might find the wisdom in Wild Things: The Art of Maturing Boys by Stephen James and David Thomas is a resource to consider.  Having a spring board of suggestions to guide you as you maneuver through a new situation is always helpful and this book explains the different growth and maturing stages of boys 0-22 and beyond.  Each stage comes with actions to consider taking, characteristics to look for and science to back it all up.  I have no doubt I’ll be referencing it over and over.  In the mean time I’m pushing past the blues and taking a minute to appreciate this genuine fifth grade smile.

 Elijah

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