Tuesday, July 27, 2010
I am continually amazed at how different two children from the same family can be. When my babies were newborns, I did things pretty much exactly the same way for them both. Why then, despite all parenting efforts, have they turned out to be so entirely opposite? I hate to admit it, but I was that judge-y mom whose face had a look of abject horror on it when I would witness a toddler throwing a massive tantrum in public. Because, well, Ella just...didn't do that. Ever. I wrongly assumed that those "other" moms were doing something wrong, taking an incorrect turn somewhere in their parenting, that was causing their kid to behave that way. And then came Charlie. Charlie, who has shattered every single one of my previously-held ideas about parenting to smithereens, who yells and screams and hits and gets mad, despite my best efforts to get him to stop. "I don't know how to parent this child," I have said on many occasions, both to myself and to others in exasperation. I have had many, many people tell me that he is perhaps the wildest, most stubborn kid they have EVER seen in their lives, and most say it either in shock or judgement (as I once did) or in pity for me, his full-time parent. But. BUT! Last week I had a revelation, an epiphany, my AHA! moment. My job with Charlie is not to get him to "stop" being himself, it is to somehow find a way to use his personality and channel all of his energy for GOOD, as opposed to EVIL (as in, biting his sister because he gets mad that his favorite tv show just ended). And oh, the things he will do with all of his energy if he chooses to use it for good. He has more fight and spunk in his little toe than most people posses in their entire body, and my purpose is to show him how to be a good person and have a good life, without changing him and beating his personality out of him (*disclaimer* NO actual beating occurs here in this house, it's just a catchphrase, people). I had, fruitlessly, been trying to get him to change, to stop being so wild and screamy and opinionated, for the love of GOD, just stop already. So, what triggered this aha moment, you may ask? This. This excerpt from a blog post on a website I read regularly, Mommy Wants Vodka, written about her daughter, who sounds eerily similar to Charlie.
Yes! I say to her, YES, my brave, sweet girl, you FIGHT against it. You get good and god-damned mad and you take that anger and you channel it into something good and you use it for all it’s worth. That is the tiger in you, my child. And you let that tiger out and you let it ROAR and God HELP anyone who gets in your way. That fight will remind you that you're alive.
When I read that, I thought YES! Yes! You scream good and loud, Charlie, because one day you will scream when someone is doing you wrong and people will HEAR YOU. You, my child, are no wallflower, content to let others have their way while you sit idly by, taking it in. This fight that you have in you can lead to great things for you if I do my job and teach you how to let it lead you down the right path in life. So you fight, Charlie, and you let yourself be heard. And even though it may be the death of me while you are a toddler, that fight in your heart is what will carry you on to do great things, son. Rage on.
And I? Am slowly learning to look past these toddler years and the frustration that Charlie's temperament can cause me. I am looking forward to when he is a teenager and doesn't let people push him around, or when he is a man and stands up for what he believes in with his loud voice booming. And I am learning to love this about him.