Our eldest has been special since day one. At 2.5, he’s a friendly, sensitive, fiery little diamond who embraces life with passion, vim and vigor. I embrace each day with a dose of caffeine and a heartfelt “HELP!” shot up to heaven.
She’s a smart little cookie. She likes to be understood. She’ll repeat whatever she’s saying until she feels you’ve fully experienced the heartfelt emotion behind her thought. She needs lot of verbal feedback and physical contact. Her mind and body stay in motion long after she starts rubbing her eyes and feeling cranky. She has a really tough time letting go of a day, especially if she’s been learning something new.
She climbs, stacks, squeals, runs, experiments, talks, demands, shrieks, feels deeply, eats, swings, dumps, pours, splashes, scrutinizes, hugs, badgers and runs. All day long, her little body lives in perpetual state of motion and intensity.
She’s very, very much like me.
I cringe sometimes when I’m out. Don’t get me wrong, I burst with joy and pride over my sweet, energetic little one. But sometimes, as I run and scoop my bolting giggler (or screamer) into my arms in a grocery store, I can feel “The Look” burning into the back of my skull.
The Look says, “If that were my kid” or “You *know* what would fix that…” or “If you don’t teach her who’s boss now…” Sometimes the owner of “The Look” will even say those words out loud. And I feel tempted to blush, make excuses, and become angry with my little one out of intense social embarrassment.
Then, it starts. On the way out to the car, with my toddler yowling for a rice cake, doubt creeps in. Maybe that sour old man or the snarky college student or the mother with the perfect, docile child was right. Maybe I’m a lousy mom. Maybe I should just be meaner. Maybe I need to go home and practice “The Look”. Maybe….
The problem with all these maybes is that they’re against my better judgment. *I* know my daughter. I know what she needs. I know how she’s feeling, what kind of week she’s had, that she’s itchy/tired/thirsty/missing daddy/adjusting to a new sibling. No one else knows that.
I know that a good, harsh threat or a “pop on the leg” will be enough to turn a bad day into a REALLY bad day for her. I know this trip to the store needs to be shorter, and that she *needs* the rice cake she’s been asking for incessantly. She doesn’t need a good spanking. She needs a few good laps around the back yard, a snack and a good rocking session.
So I start the realistic self-talk. Yes, it is important to consider others, and so if my spirited child is actually damaging something/someone, or making life unpleasant for those around her, I will see that she respects those boundaries and redirect her (or simply remove her from the situation).
But if my daughter is simply singing “Twinkle Little Star” at the top of her voice in the grocery, or running in the halls of the church, or having a two year old explosion at the park over some firm boundary she doesn’t like…tough cookies. That’s who she is, and she is, in fact, two. If someone doesn’t care for children doing childish things, perhaps they should consider re evaluating the way they participate in humanity. Or becoming a hermit.