Otherwise known as: parenting a preteen.
I rambled about this a bit earlier this year, right around Ryan's ninth birthday. We are still pretty new to this parenting genre, but I am starting to "get" this phase. I try as hard as I can to be understanding during this time, because I know it's as bewildering for Ryan as it is for us. One moment he can act so mature, I get glimpses of what he'll be like as an adult. The next moment, I am having flashbacks to when he was a toddler, as he throws a tantrum because I have dared to send him to his room for being disrespectful.
He can be startling with his insight, and he can even be downright helpful and considerate when he wants to be. He'll play with his youngest sibling to get her out of my hair, or he'll fix me a drink without me asking for one, seeming to notice when I need one the most. (don't worry, just a pepsi. I haven't taught him bartending. Yet. Ha ha, kidding! Mostly.)
Other times he makes me want to pull my hair out, as he's the one making the mess, or spitting on his siblings or what have you. I look at him and wonder "where did that helpful kid go, he was *just* here!"
Like I said, I am trying to have patience. He is stuck between being a little kid and being an adolescent, and it's not a fun place to be. I am also a little afraid though, as we are just starting down this road and have a long ways to go. Oh yeah, and we get to go through this three more times! Maybe I should teach him how to spike my pepsi. (Once again, kidding! mostly.)