Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Leaving childhood behind

A few weeks ago Archer had a scrape on his side that required a bandaid.  It's not easy getting him to accept one; some early experiences where they hurt coming off have made him leery.  But we got it on him.

After a bath a few days later, we asked whether he still had the bandaid on or whether it had come off.  "I took it off," he informed us, and then immediately made sure we heard an important point of clarification.  "Oh, and I have something to tell you," he said, using his standard conversation-starting formula.  "You gave me a Spider-Man bandaid.  I think I'm big enough to use regular bandaids now."

It was the first time I can remember him expressing awareness of growing out of some plaything or theme.  Especially striking was the way he put it -- very much in the vein of "I'm too old for that baby stuff," just as  any kid at a sufficiently advanced stage of development might say.

Archer will be in fifth grade this coming school year.  Yesterday we had a long and fruitful conversation with the GT specialist at his new intermediate school.  Afterward we felt much better that he would be able to adapt to the strange environment.  It will take time, and there may be bumps.  But some of his traits and tendencies will be helpful, like his obsession with schedules, frameworks, instructions, and step-by-step processes.

What remains to be seen is how he will adapt to the increasingly complex social world of the tweener years.  Rare occurrences like Archer's sensitivity to appropriate bandaid designs make me think that he's finally begun to take some notice of distinctions that are key to these years' intense identity formation imperatives.  I know he'll have a long way to go; my only hope is that other kids allow him the space to get there at his own pace.

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