I read something really funny on one of my mommy feeds the other day. It was called something like ‘Ten ways to know if you have a strong-willed child.’ Let me save you some reading…if you need ten clues, you most definitely do NOT have a strong-willed child. On the other hand, if you Do have a strong-willed child, you a) don’t have time to read ten points about anything and b) already know it because you’ve been picking up meals they don’t like off the floor since they were big enough to fling rice cereal, you have cried a thousand tears over all the adorable outfits they won’t…WON’T wear, and you don’t have a single picture of your child smiling, because doing things on command is beneath them and always has been.
I’ve had Bisky’s number since before birth, so she’s not much of a surprise, although the new and interesting ways she has of expressing her independent, and fiery (and exasperating, and infuriating) strong will is changing by the day. I’m glad she’s a fighter, I really am. When I was 6 week pregnant with her, the doctors predicted an early miscarriage due to the enormous fibroid (named Fibrella because we like to laugh at things that scare us in my house) sharing her space. “She’s going to have to be an overcomer before she’s even born!” I wailed to Dreamy. Prophetic words indeed, and definitely grounds for wailing. Overcomer or miracle, or both, Bisky decimated Fibrella and has been making her own rules ever since.
It’s hilarious talking to her because she knows everything about everything according to her, and trying to tell her any differently usually ends up with her in time out for being disrespectful. I’ve definitely learned to pick my battles with her. One of the battles I don’t fight anymore is clothing. Up until she was two, I picked out her outfits every day. I’d make her cute little pigtails and sometimes she’d show a preference for one pink shirt over another and I’d accommodate, but overall, those were sweet times. After the twins were born, she went on a clothing and hair-doing strike for nearly a year (not to mention a potty training strike). We called her Mowgli that year due to her proclivity for matted hair and diapers-only attire.
Once she started preschool last year, I’ve been grateful just for clothes. Any clothes. Want to wear your Elsa dress again (even though it’s a nightgown)? Okay! Want to wear the ladybug pants that you’ve had since you were three and aren’t SUPPOSED to be capris and any day your little butt is going to burst out of the seams? Go for it. Yesterday she came down looking like unicorn puke with zebra-striped leggings and a purple, pink, and brown flowered shirt. “How do you like my outfit, Mommy?” “You look ridiculous, please change immediately” I did NOT say. Nope. That’s just waving a flag in front of a bull. “Well, was it your intent to match? I only ask because you don’t. Do you care?” I asked instead, as neutrally as possible.
“Nope. I don’t care about that. I think I look pretty.”
“Okay, then rock on.” I answered, and I meant it. I suppose there are some moms out there who might judge me for my daughter’s unfortunate, if creative, wardrobe choices but one of the advantages of being ‘seasoned’ in years is that high school is many decades behind me and I just don’t care what the popular kids think anymore.
But it’s not all a battle. She’s just at that phase of life where she’s learning things she’s never considered before. Just today, for example:
- That we all have skeletons on the inside of us…they are called bones and it’s not scary.
- That you don’t have to dress up as a ‘real’ turkey for Thanksgiving because the thing we eat is actually a turkey.
- Yes, the chickens we eat used to be alive, too, and you won’t believe where bacon comes from.
- I thought she was going to go vegan on me when I broke the news about beef being from cows, but after pondering this for a few minutes all she said was that cows are delicious.
She has lately also been repeating to people that don’t necessarily share our spiritual beliefs that she’s a rainbow sparkled diamond in God’s crown and that Jesus made her to help him paint the world in color. I actually DID tell her that, because I happen to think it’s true and I’m grateful that so far no one has disagreed to her face.
As much as I knew Bisky was fierce, I wasn’t prepared for BOTH the boys to be as well. Take the new beds, for example. Last week I wrote about my brilliant idea to get bunk beds for Frick and Frack so that they would sleep through the night better not crunched together in a toddler bed, and my later realization that one or both would die on bunk beds, but foolish optimism nonetheless about ALL the sleep I was going to bed now that they would have comfortable beds. Ha! Ha! And Double HA!
Let me just say that since the ‘bed fiasco’ we have been awake every night at least once and Aiden, alone and bereft in his bed, has arisen at 4:30 or 5 am each day. Except today, of course, but that was only because we were up watching Frozen AGAIN at 1:00 in the morning! You see, I assumed that, because there were two toddler beds in the room and they kept sharing just one, that they were choosing to sleep together. Wrong-O! The actual fact of the matter was that #NoBen was sleeping in HIS bed, and Aiden was just tagging along. Unbeknownst to me, the draw was not the brother thing, it was that particular bed, in that particular position, with that particular safety rail- all of which Mammy DESTROYED with the whole new-bed debacle.
Now, as much as a daredevil as he is, #NoBen has also always had a tough time with transitions – much like his Mammy and his sister. None of us are the type of folk for whom one should EVER throw a surprise party. Or change plans mid-week. Or do something differently from the first time we experienced it. We’re just not all that good with stuff like that and yes, I’m aware we are all probably on some spectrum of dysfunction or other. But I don’t dwell too much on that because spectrum or not, we’ll either have to adjust to the world or the world will have to adjust to us. In the meantime, I usually change things VERY slowly. Dreamy and Aiden are not on that spectrum whatsoever and are usually cheerfully oblivious to the angst and trauma the rest of us are suffering, and I’m happy for them. Really, I am.
So knowing all this I guess I should have been prepared for the fact that #NoBen has refused to sleep in either of the new beds. He’s taken up his blankie and his pillow and his teddy bear and goes to sleep in the room where he naps. Even that was a stretch because the dismantled old beds are in there, which is CHANGE, which is unacceptable, but not as bad as a whole new bed. And I am struggling terribly with a) missing the old beds, b) missing our old bedtime ritual, c) missing watching them snuggled up together and wondering if I have ruined a brotherly bond forever. So you see, the rigid little apples clearly don’t fall far from the tree!
I expect he’ll either come around or just outgrow the playpen and have no choice. It’s the first time one of the boys has exercised pure expression of will so dramatically different from what I want for them and as a reforming control freak it is unpleasant
. And yes, parents of teens and adults, I know this is just the beginning but give me a break; I still have my California area code on my phone and it’s been over three years!
So fellow parents of strong-willed children, you have my respect, and at times sympathy but, truth be told, I wouldn’t do well with a milquetoast kid, so it’s definitely working out for the best!