Today was a good day.
Getting him out of the house wasn't a steel cage death match, which is always welcome and always a surprise. I did set it up somewhat by planting a seed the previous night- we had to get batteries for his coin-eating dog piggy bank and I casually mentioned we'd pick them up "on our outing". So when I said it was time to get dressed and go out, that's what happened.
It was close enough to lunch time, and when I asked what he'd like he eschewed his habitual replies (stone silence or a muttered "idon'tknow") and told me he'd like a plate of rice and beans at Jose's house (his immemorial name for a local Mexican restaurant we've frequented as long as he's been alive).
Will wonders never cease!
We pile into the car and the coolant light comes on. I check it and yeah, we need coolant- probably a leak somewhere, great. I break the news to Fuss that we have to go to the store before we have lunch. He greets the news with equanimity.
I'm growing suspicious of this unaccustomed biddability.
While at the store getting antifreeze we pick up the batteries, and Fuss requests his traditional ice cream from the counter by the door. He's being so good I don't want to say no, but if he eats a cone now there goes lunch. I take a breath and make my play-
"Well, we're going to have lunch now...how about we come back for ice cream after that?"
So, we had a pleasant lunch together, then crossed the street to the bay and spent a few hours digging dirt clods, making tracks for sand waterfalls and walking the labyrinth on the bluff.
Eventually he got thirsty so we headed back to the car, stopping at the market for an apple juice on the way. Then we went and got the ice cream, which he licked contentedly as we wandered around browsing the shelves. Then we came home, and he actually ate dinner (chopped up turkey burger with ketchup), then took a bath, and is now sitting peacefully beside me on the bed playing Plants vs Zombies while I type this up.
An entire day without a major conflict.
No arbitrary stubbornness & contrariness.
Not unprecedented, but in his five years of life I can count days like this on one hand....with fingers left over.
Fuss is what he is, and I'm not interested in changing that.
A link drifted down my timeline on FB today that neatly sums him up- The Gift of a Strong Willed Child. The other term I've come across is 'spirited'. Over the years we've consoled ourselves upon surviving another laborious, confrontational day, with the words "well, he's going to be a FANTASTIC adult." People make free with well meaning but useless advice without provocation, but only parents of similar children understand anything, and are always wise enough to offer not advice but commiseration.
We love him, we keep him safe, and we let him be himself to the greatest extent we can manage. Sometimes, you just can't. Being a parent means making up all the rules and enforcing them, and that makes you the asshole and the bad guy more often than you'd like. But a lot of the time you can- you can accommodate, you can leave him be, you can let him find his own way through something instead of just grabbing him and dragging him along, even though it takes ten times longer.
We do all that so that he can have a life full of days like this one.