(he's been perfecting his cartwheel)
Which is, of course, an oversimplification. Because introversion and extroversion are not clean binaries. But the Captain can be called an extrovert pretty safely, and Sir O is definitely on the other end of a spectrum or two.
As a rule, this kid thrives on quiet alone time. And sleep, and routine.
He requires repetitive prior notice to handle change well.
And even when I try to anticipate all the parts of bumping up against real life that might make him moody, sometimes I still get blindsided.
He's been begging to get his own room, in hopes of getting more sleep on school nights, and if and when we can, we will probably comply. School mornings are a little bit brutal around here. I generally tiptoe into the boys' room, pull Sir O's clothes for the day out into the hallway, and then start trying to gently wake him up. I'll rub his back until he's stirring, and then I either start to dress him in his bed, or if I want his brothers to stay asleep, I'll carry him out in the hall and lay him on the floor to dress him.
Yes, he's almost 8, and his mother dresses him on school days. Because he's either floppy and fighting to not be awake, or he wakes up grumpy and fights me tooth and claw. It's the only way to get him out the door on time. I'm realizing I won't be strong enough to carry and wrangle him much longer. He's been growth-spurting like crazy and he seems so much a man-child that I get regular pits in my stomach over it. His hands are nearly as big as mine, and our socks are the same size. He's only 1 foot and 1 inch shorter than me, and he is growing and I am not.
This morning was a floppy morning. There was not a great deal of resistance as I carried his long and lithe body out into the hallway. His legs are getting to be forever long, and his top central incisors are finally coming in - (they fell out in October, didn't they?) and he seems to be right in between two awkward stages, in a short lived burst of pleasant proportions. This enormous body, sprouting length like a butterfly stretching out of its chrysalis, bearing only faint traces of the supple babyness that used to be so familiar. I don't have to bend my mind very far to feel for that moment in the future when this boy will outgrow me. His arms will stretch farther than mine, I'll have to look up to demand evasive eye-contact. They physical reality of having your body's creation outgrow you is uncanny.
Immediately upon consigning himself to not-going-back-to-bed, Sir O always bounds into his sister's room. Usually she's awake, or stirring, and Sir O has claimed a stewardship over being Bunny's first-thing every morning. He's fiercely invested in her, and becomes half of a parent sometimes. Every single school day there's indignation over being forced to eat breakfast instead of play with her. It's maddening and perfect all at the same time.
By the time the neighbor kids come to pick him up and walk to school with him, we've usually managed everything but brushing teeth, so they wait, in an unfortunately normative comfort, while he brushes and I finish preening him. Then he and his hurricane head out the door, and I think about him and his day too little before he's back again in the afternoon. There are just so many squeaky wheels.
When Sir O gets home from having spent 7 hours surrounded by so many bodies, he is again unpredictable and often moody. I've learned better than to take him personally, and usually if I can provide an after school snack, I manage to win at a game of dodgeball with Sir O's outbursts. School lunch is too short and too social to allow him to get much eating done, so his growing body is always ravished.
Then, when I can manage it, I try to give him some time to be alone. When I do it right, he'll jump into an elaborate color-by-numbers or a library book, or ride his bike. When I'm sloppy he sneaks into my craft room and makes expensive messes. After some quiet time he's a totally different person, and we're better able to negotiate him.
Staring down Spring Break, and Summer Vacation after that, I'm looking forward to letting him sleep in a bit and skipping our morning wrestling matches, and I'm glad he'll have enough sleep and quiet self-directed time to be a much less Mr. Hyde version of himself, but I also worry about the destruction and messes. And everything's compounded when I have homework sitting on the front burner of my brain. Grad school mom brings both pros and cons for the family as a whole - being constantly distracted by unfinished homework is a solid con.
And this is what it looks like, to me, as two imperfect people navigate life in the same space, one feeling responsible for the other. Motherhood is so perpetually foreign. It's one of the most universal experiences on earth, but nobody has yet managed to avoid drowning in it. There's no way to teach via language the experiences that require a body and all its separate minds in all its connected senses. Motherhood is the wheel that is reinvented every single time. Unanticipatable aches in unknown parts of one's own soul, and bumping up against unfamiliar borders of one's own capacities. No one could ever think about it very hard and feel confident they had done anything "right."