Last week the only adjective that could adequately describe my children was 'vile'. End of year over tiredness, too many late nights thanks to long summer evenings and general tetchiness resulted in two thoroughly unpleasant little boys.
Now perhaps it's because the end of school year is in sight, or perhaps it's because they were left with their ex-military father all weekend, but this week, my children have become angels.
Sure there was the 'whacking my brother with the sprinkler after he scraped my back' incident and the 'I hate you, I'm not listening, you're all stupid poopy pants people' moment from one of them. But I can actually recall the individual bad moments, rather than them becoming a continuous background blur interspersed with the odd good behaviour.
Yesterday as we walked home from school, 6 year old (who for the last few weeks behaved more like a 16 year old) said that he needed to go up to a friend's house in the afternoon to help retrieve a ball from some man's yard on behalf of a third friend. It took me a long time to get to the bottom of what was going on, but in essence, a year 6 had kicked his favourite football over the school fence and into someone's garden. He was very upset about it. So my son and another slightly older boy had promised to go and retrieve it for him after school.
I found this quite remarkable as my son is fairly shy. When I asked him what he was going to say to the old man who's house it was, he said that his friend was going to do the talking and that he was going to do the fetching. He wanted permission to go off and run this errand.
I said I couldn't let him go off with a friend (who I didn't know) to a house (which I didn't know) to a man (who I didn't know) all on his own. But I promised him that we could go and get the ball and that I would simply be in the background.
I was so impressed. He went to his friend's house (he's not a close friend, just someone at school with him), knocked confidently on the door, went with the friend to two houses (they weren't sure which house the ball was in), the friend asked very politely if they could get the ball, the two of them found it, they thanked the man and left. My son then went to the year 6's house, knocked on his door and returned the ball to the boy's father.
It might sound like nothing. But it was the first time he's ever shown this level of independence and confidence, not to mention thoughtfulness. I was genuinely gobsmacked. And so proud that he'd made a promise to a friend and followed through with it.
It also occurred to me how close I'd been to saying no to the whole escapade as it had all seemed so complicated when he tried to explain it to me, which would have meant that I'd be the reason he couldn't fulfil a promise. It reminded me again of how important it is to listen to your children and not just automatically say 'No' just because what they want to do doesn't fit into your pre-arranged plans.
This morning, my children:
- ate their breakfast without complaint
- took dirty plates and milk cups to the kitchen
- got themselves dressed
- packed book bags
- cleaned teeth
- found library books
- tidied the toy room
ALL WITHOUT ME EVEN ASKING!
You could have knocked me down with a feather. I have no idea what has inspired this new, marvellous behaviour but long may it last.
To put the cherry on top, when I dropped 6 year old at school today, he ran off with his friends without a backward glance, so I called out a goodbye to him. He waved at me, was about to run off with his friends, before he turned back, came out to me, gave me the biggest hug and kiss (in front of all his friends), said 'I love you mommy' and then ran off.
What a lovely start to my day.