Monday, March 13, 2017

To Every Parent With a Spirited Child

If you have a spirited kiddo.  I just want you to know...I LUV YAH AND YOU ARE AWESOME. 

Before my son was born, patience came more naturally to me and so many of my friends would comment on how "patient I was all the time." Not trying to's just a fact...excuse me, it was a fact.

 I cherished every second of motherhood with my only kiddo and I delighted in my role as a stay at home mom.  I probably only raised my voice once at my daughter in five years.  She was an easy kiddo overall.  She was always smiling and so content to observe everything.  She made me feel so loved (which I realize isn't her job but, it was an extra treat!)because I was always able to calm her down, cheer her up and make her feel better in any given situation.  She required literally slim to no physical discipline because all I had to say was a gentle, "no, no," and she would move on to something else.  She has been my best buddy, literally since the moment she was born. Ahhhhh, the good ol' days.  

Then my son was born...and don't freak out on me people.  I ADORE my son and I LOVE having a son.  Bruin is SO unbelievably cute and incredibly funny.  He is a great sleeper and the sweetest snuggle buddy that there ever was.  I will brag more about him later but, for now I need to vent/complain/be real/be crazy. 

My son, my son.  

He is spirited and passionate and extremely LOUD.  

He was pretty mellow for the first 6 weeks of his life and then he took a sharp turn and just started crying 88.9% of every day.  

We tried everything that good parents try to rule out all of the possible causes.  Hungry? Nope. Poopy? Nope.  Tired? Nope.  Too hot?  Nope. Too cold? Nope.  We were told that maybe he was just a colicky kid. That actually gave us a sense of peace because now we had light in the tunnel.  

It was SO mentally draining to not be able to cheer up my son.  The constant crying depleted me in every way and I often felt like my child didn't even like me or need me.  That wasn't true of course but, it felt that way and it hurt so much.  It was a very discouraging season (well, technically it is still ongoing but, not quite as hard I guess.) I didn't want to go anywhere because I didn't want to have to talk over a screaming child or shop with a screaming child etc.  That's not fun at all.  On the other hand, sometimes he surprised me and enjoyed himself at a play date etc. and that was such a HUGE treat.  But, the unpredictable nature of his mood, made it so hard to want to go anywhere.  

A year passed and I realized that I wasn't dealing with colic at all...I had just been given the great honor of raising a spirited child.  

I couldn't help but, think back on all of the times that I saw a mom (or friend) struggling with her screaming child in every store I had ever been in.  I used to feel bad for the child (and the mother of course too but, mostly the sad child).  I wondered if the mother just didn't understand her child very well or maybe she wasn't a very patient mother.  It actually hurt my heart to hear children screaming because I had never really experienced that kind of screaming before.  I wanted to go hug those kiddos and help calm them down because hugs and sweet words worked perfectly with my daughter. 

Surely, those things worked for all children! 

I thought my patience and gentleness were a big part of the reason why my daughter was so sweet and easy. 

 Psh. Not at all.  Ok. Well, maybe like 5% of the reason.  I deserve a little credit I guess. 

When my son sets his mind to something, there is nothing on Earth that will deter him from what he wants. I suppose that would be okay if we only had to deal with one thing like that every day but, the thing about strong-willed kiddos is...that is every moment of their life.   

Diaper changes = hiding and avoiding and when caught, screaming, flailing and nashing of teeth. 
Getting dressed = clothes too tight, too small, too scratchy, too cold, too hot, too blue, too white, too cute, too clean. 
Hats = forget about it. never ever ever....getting back together.    
Gloves in subzero temperatures = throwing them on the ground and screaming NOOOOO.  Oh you can keep trying to put them on and keep demanding that they stay on but, CHILD WILL WIN.  You just give up and let their hands freeze.  THERE IS NO OTHER WAY.
Grocery shopping = 10.2 seconds of calm before said strong willed child scans the store and finds something to ask for and then screams the entire duration of the trip because you say no.  They will also ask through snot and tears for the item at least 1.4 million more times before you get to the cash register and ask if they sell a pill to euthanize yourself. 

I bring snacks, toys and cell phones to the store as well but, when a spirited kiddo wants something it's all over.  Goodnight.  

Oh and P.S. They will also scream the entire way home from the store in the car. 

Wiping dirty noses = lots and lots and lots of screaming.  Sounds like someone is being chopped into tiny pieces every time.
Meal Time = a slow painful death.  They stare at the food you lovingly prepared for them and then pick it up and throw it.  You discipline in love and they careth not...and do it all over again.  You even try to make their favorite food...or a special meal just for them and even still they decide that at that given is not their favorite meal after all and you have yet again FAILED. 

I eat most meals in somber silence trying desperately to crawl away in my mind to some happier place. 

Getting in the car = sounds simple enough.  WRONG.  I never knew how stiff the human body could become while still alive.  A two year old child can simply refuse to bend into the sitting position required by most car seats.  You can even put most of your shoulder wait gently against their body and they will still be stronger than you and don't forget, they will be pulling your hair whilst you attempt to bend them.  

Buying your child a toy = Of course you love your strong willed child so occasionally you want to buy them something fun.  JUST DON'T.  The color and size will be wrong. They will want to open the box immediately and will refuse to wait to get to the register.  Then they will ask for "MORE," and throw the goodie on the ground because it is just not GOOD ENOUGH.  You will then go and buy yourself a goodie to ease your suffering. 

Strong willed kids are not bad children.  They are not poorly raised children.  They are not brats.  They can be very WELL LOVED and yet they are simply spirited.  That is all.  

I've changed drastically between child one and child two.  I've even learned that each of my children require a completely different parenting style from me.  That has been and will continue to be a tough skill to learn and implement.  

Daisy is quick to learn and obey.  She requires a gentle tone and very little follow through.  She has a heart that loves to please and usually obey.  

Bruin requires a much firmer tone and follow through...every. single. time.  He still needs lots of love and positive affirmation too of course.  He is a super sensitive little guy.  But, I quickly realized that the way I parent Daisy was not working with Bruin.  Bruin's nature is to resist direction at all costs.  LOL.  Gosh, I love him.  

  I have learned so much about people and life from my two children.   I have a million times more compassion for Mothers with strong willed kiddos.  I've also learned that as parents we must be willing to adjust ourselves and our parenting styles to bring out the best in each of our kiddos.  That is what love does.  It's hard and it hurts sometimes but, it's wise.  I've learned that I can create two humans in my stomach and they can look pretty dang similar on the outside but, be NOTHING alike on the inside.  I can love them both just as passionately but, they will still be vastly different people. 

To Every Parent with a Strong Willed Child, I send you my love, encouragement, support and zero judgement.  Carry on Momma.  Keep loving your spirited kiddo with all your heart and I will do the same.  It won't be long before we will get to enjoy seeing what awesome little leaders these kiddos turn out to be.  God will take care of the rest! 

Peace. Love.