There were times in Zachary's younger life (like when he was Gavin's age, or Tyler's age, or maybe when he was seven and 11 months old) when I wondered if he would ever grow out of "the difficult phase." Well-meaning friends and relatives have been telling me for years that Zach would eventually become easier to raise, that certain struggles wouldn't last forever, and that one day he'd blossom into a wonderful young man.
Truth be told, I didn't believe it was possible -- not with this kid. That probably makes me a bad mother. But quite honestly, I was lost in the forest of his childhood (and that of his siblings) and couldn't see the trees. I couldn't see the big steps forward because there were lots of big steps back. I could only see the constant struggle and couldn't imagine an easier life.
However, lately I've been able to see brighter things.
Lately, Zach has been calmer. He has been more sensitive to others, more willing to help. He has been less destructive and more compassionate. He seems to be walking a little taller, taking greater interest in the world, and feeling more comfortable in his skin.
I was particularly impressed the other day, when, after throwing a fit over a video game restriction (and being sent to his room), Zach sent the following note upstairs to me with Tyler.
To me, this note illustrated a few important things. First, he expressed love to the person who had punished him. Second, he showed that he was actually thinking about what he had done and had isolated the point of failure. Third, he pledged to improve. This note represented a major step in Zach's maturity -- and it was his "get out of jail free" card for the day.
Lately, I'm seeing this goofy face more often than Zach's sad or angry face. It's a very good thing!