Mr B last night calmly opted to take a loss of TV privileges rather than take a bath. Okay, not entirely calmly, but with distinct preference for that, and no screaming or crying - just grumbling.
I let him, because in the end the intention is to have him bathed, and he's taking the bath this morning, before school. What I wanted was for him to just comply with my schedule, because baths in the morning are a pain in the rear. He opted not to, recognized that opting out was a problem for me but decided that opting out was still that important to him. So he took the hit.
Okay, then. Now what?
It used to be that the sign that I was parenting a child who was no longer there (that is, that they'd outgrown my techniques) was that I was getting all the way to yelling and still not getting a response in the direction I wanted. Now, it is that I'm getting to negotiated consequences that don't entirely make sense.
Really, if he was a grownup and preferred a morning shower to an evening one, it would be a minor annoyance at worst. I would certainly be able to find a way to accommodate. He has done the morning bath once before, on time and properly with only a little 'please stay upstairs while I bathe' annoyance. I'm skeptical that one success means always success, but I don't have reason to think it will be terrible... so two days of no TV for an inconvenience? Bzzt. Methinks that's the wrong answer.
But it is a nice signpost. Pointing right at 'hello, he's older than your parenting.' Now I get to learn how to parent this new age for him. It won't be the same as parenting his brother at this age - so very different in needs, style, personality, direction... but there are some places I understand, number one being the need to sit down and get to the heart of a matter together and listening to what he wants first, rather than just choosing for him and trying to convince him I know better. Not that this isn't true for younger ages, too, but it becomes THE method, instead of being situational.
Granted, some days he isn't older than the 'mommy knows best' parenting (yes, you WILL get in trouble going to school looking like that). He's in that range of disregulation where he's swinging wildly back and forth between years younger than he 'is' and much older. Needy and emotionally hungry and fragile one moment, mature and self-contained another. One minute he's figuring out a solution with his brother, the next he's making faces at him and poking him with a toy.
Nine is coming up soon. NINE, how did he get to be 'going on nine'? But nine is a good year, so far as I know. I only have the one experience with nine, but I liked it rather a lot. I've never been much of one for nostalgia about my kids when they were younger, fortunately. I think I'm just surprised that they aren't always the same age, whatever age that is now.
Or rather, whatever age it is that I already know how to parent.