The Storm Cloud

Our older son is turning nine this month and we are entering a new stage with him. I can feel him really push back on rules and expectations. He wants a later bed time and more purchasing power. He tells me he is saving up to buy “internet”. I am not surprised by any of this. It is a rite of passage into tween-ville. What’s hard to handle is the negativity. Everything I suggest is combated with “no”. He says no to everything. “How would you like to do baseball camp?” – No.  “Since it’s hot out would you like to go to the town pool?” – No.  I’ve learned to just forge ahead. His natural inclination is to be a homebody but once he is there he has a great time.

Yesterday we had to wait an hour for an oil change and inspection sticker. I figured it would be fun to stop for a quick trail hike behind the Bass Pro Shops; run around outside and then visit the arcade shooting range inside. I should have known, he would want no part of it. I prodded him and he dug in. I changed tactic and said, “listen, you don’t have to like this, that is your choice but we are here and your brother and I want to hike. I can’t make you have a good time but you need to participate. Sometimes we do things for you this hike is something for me.” He got out of the car and proceeded to kick dirt and complain for the first 100 feet. I stopped him and said, “look, the trail is a well marked loop you are free to run ahead and do the loop by yourself. We can meet you at the bridge by the parking lot.” I thought he would like the freedom and frankly I was ready for some distance. He lagged behind and thought about the proposal. He never took advantage of it but did run ahead several times to hide behind a tree and jump out to scare me. At least it broke the tension.

As I walked along all I could think of was “storm cloud”. Several years earlier when he was four my mom and I were sitting on the front porch listening to him throw a fit about some injustice. He was so worked up all we could do was watch as he finally ran off into the yard in his fury. As we watched him my Mom says in a dead pan voice, “we used to call you Storm Cloud”.  She had waited a life time to tell me that one sentence and her delivery was perfect. She didn’t even look at me but stood up and went inside the house to let me ponder that phrase in the presence of my fuming son.

She was right too. I was a stormy girl. I had a younger brother and spent a lot of time keeping score. I wasn’t soft and cuddly. I was focused and driven. To me everything was worth the fight. That drive helped me accomplish all sorts of things. It served me well in school and in my career. I see a similar drive and determination in our son. Sometimes I wish he was soft and cuddly, bubbly and optimistic but he’s not. He’s his own person albeit a chip of the old block. Every now and then the “storm” breaks and his smile and laughter is wonderfully infectious. Rainbows and sunshine are beautiful but storms are powerful. This is one storm we are just going to have to ride out.

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