My son Joseph has always been a challenge to raise. He's loving and fun and adorable and sweet, but he's also strong-willed and stubborn and emotional. I think the politically correct term is spirited. When he was a toddler, he frustrated me on a daily basis. He hated being restrained and would scream at the top of his lungs if I tried to buckle him into a stroller or car seat. When he was happy, the whole world knew it; he'd give me huge hugs and tell me I was the greatest. If he was sad, he cried for long stretches. And if he was mad, well, some memories are best left alone.
I've always thought that Joseph came prepared to conquer the world. And lately, he's doing it. He's mastered fishing, rockhunting, backpacking, reading, and learning. His favorite book right now is the Utah Field Guide to Fishing. He pores over rockhounding books and wants me to take him to obscure places in California, Nevada, or Utah to get fossils. He loves to explore the forest behind our house. He digs for worms and catches grasshoppers for the twins. He works hard, when he puts his mind to it, and he adores his family. Ask him to empty a dishwasher and you'll likely get a battle. But ask him to help with Eliza, and he's right there ready and willing. He'll take her outside to play or push her stroller up and down the street for an hour. No wonder she idolizes him.
But Joey still lives life in extremes of emotion. When he was three, he loved his older sister Lillian and told us he wanted to marry her. We told him that wasn't possible, and he wept tears of real sorrow.
Two days ago, Joey came home from school with a small snake he'd caught. He was so excited. He showed it off to his siblings. He let the twins help him get grass and dirt to fill up the terrarium. He took it to show his friend. He wanted me to buy him mealworms to feed it. He told me I was such a nice mom to let him keep a snake even though I don't like them. He was on top of the world.
Yesterday, Joey came home from school and rushed through his homework so he could spend the afternoon with his snake. A few moments later, he came in upset and crying, because the snake had escaped the terrarium in the garage. We tried our best to cheer him up, but he felt such sorrow. I gave him a hug and told him I loved him. We pointed out that he would have let the snake go in a week anyway. Lillian and the twins helped look for the snake with no luck. I reminded him that he still had all of his family to love him, and Eliza gave him a huge hug. But he still cried tears off and on throughout the day.