I have a bright almost-six year old. In the last few months since starting school, his curiosity and maturity has grown exponentially. We are in awe of this.
He was once a tiny baby who took a little longer to reach milestones than his peers, but his persistence was admirable.
He used to be a two year old who, for a while, would bite another child if he was angry. We got through that phase, fortunately.
He used to be a three year old who was highly skilled at throwing the mother of all tantrums – an intense, primal wildness – especially in public.
One of which was in front of his teacher at childcare, who at the end of the day, took me aside and politely suggested we could have an OT assess him, just to check if “everything was OK”.
Politely, I told her where she could stick her OT assessment. He had just turned three. At the time he was adjusting to sharing me with his three-month-old brother.
(I also knew he didn’t like the childcare teacher in question.)
I’d followed my instinct, but I was worried. Was there in fact a problem? Was I making excuses for his behaviour? Should I have him assessed, like so many other children are these days?
Age four brought more reasoning..the very small amount that can be expected from a four year old. Four was not hugely different from three.
Age five, however, was a turning point: bringing with it proper conversation and enquiry, and tantrums subsiding – but still the ability to slam the odd door, and tell us at the top of his lungs exactly what he thought.
I worried some more – but reassured myself by considering his parents were not the most calm and patient of people. Surely it was the power of genetics at play!
Now at almost six, he is writing the most in his prep class. He will come home, and sometimes sit all afternoon and draw with intricate detail.
He will build amazing, symmetrical constructions that I would never have thought up.
This week, he told me he was going to draw a pictograph. I had to think for a minute. The end result largely resembled a rudimentary, but logical process diagram. He even had an ‘end’ in his process flow – a box with his name in it.
He does not enjoy practicing reading much, still preferring to listen to stories.
No matter. He is thriving on attending Kumon to practice maths twice a week.
He still has the odd meltdown, can be defiant, stubborn, and give us cheek.
He can also focus effectively, be attentive, and is thoughtful and creative.
Nowadays, I worry that the school he attends, and we his parents, won’t do enough for him.
It’s funny how our worries change, along with our rapidly changing and developing young children.
This was written following my thoughts on the recent decision to screen all preschool children for signs of mental illness. You can read an article on the Government’s decision in this editorial by The Age here