Despite his confused word choice, he was correct: when he has a good attitude, he gets privileges that are taken away when he's a whiny, hitting, stubborn-for-no-reason boy. And on that particular day, his attitude couldn't have been better.
He was so sweet when I arrived at school for the belated Mother's Day party, sitting on my lap and asking me kind of fruit I wanted. His response to many of my suggestions was an enthusiastic "that's a great idea." And almost anything I asked him to do was met with a prompt "of course" (which is a funny thing for a preschooler to say, and even funnier when it's pronounced "kerse.")
Throughout the day, I told him how much more fun he was to be around when he was a nice boy. Elliot even agreed with me that he liked being nice more than being whiny or mean.
My son's super-sweet streak went on for two or three days...and then ended as suddenly as it began. That's not to say he went from angel to devil. But, he went back to more of his usual sometimes sweet/sometimes stubborn/sometimes silly/sometimes slightly mean behavior.
Frankly, that's more of what I expect from a three-and-a-half year-old. But, it's nice to know that he can have really good days. And, it's reassuring to know that he's actually listening to me (while pretending he's not) when I tell him that his ability to watch videos is linked to his behavior.
In my mind, I'd been sort of idealizing this park, wishing we had something similar near our new house. But today, as Elliot excitedly ran toward the fire engine, I had a realization: everything was much smaller than I'd remembered.
I know, of course, that nothing in the park has shrunk. I realize, of course, that Elliot has grown. But, I didn't really realize how much until I saw my big boy in this familiar setting.
He easily reached the fire truck bell I used to have to pick him up to clang. The lone metal slide, seemingly a remnant from the 70s, no longer seemed like a height from which he might inadvertently fall. The play structures all seemed smaller -- and closer together -- than they had in the past. I thought back to how I'd worried so much that he'd run off and get lost, which now seemed fairly impossible...even though he now runs a lot faster than he used to.
It's amazing how much my perspective changed in the 10 months or so since we last visited the park. While I once thought that living by a park was an absolute necessity, I can now see a day when Elliot will be too big for the play structures.
Fortunately, that day is still a few years off.
"Yes, I did," he confidently replied.
I'm not sure that Elliot really grew in the almost three days I spent away from him while at a weekend writing conference, but it sure seemed like it. He looked bigger. His vocabulary seemed larger. And his imaginary world seemed to have expanded.
When I look at Elliot, all I see is "boy." And I guess that makes sense: he's now closer to four than three.
But, at the same time, he sometimes, seems so little.
Take for example, last night, when he suddenly appeared in our bedroom at 12:30, sniffling and crying. He couldn't quite say what was wrong. I'm still not sure if something scared him, or if something hurt. He would only tell me that he felt "yucky."
All I know is that he wanted to be near me. He wrapped his arms around my neck and snuggled close. Eventually, he acquiesced to going back to his bedroom, where I rocked him and snuggled him before putting him back to sleep. This morning, he was fine...and back to being my big boy.
But, big boy that he is, he still needs his Mommy. And I hope that's always the case.