You, my dear boy, who are turning three today, are a force to be reckoned with. I just wish it wasn’t me that had to be the one doing the reckoning. You are a spirited child combined with a wicked array of genetic “gifts” that never seem to stop giving.
You wear me and your daddy out. To be completely honest, there are some days that our first stress-free, relaxed breath of the day is when we confirm you have fallen asleep for the night. The only energy we have left is enough to maybe watch an old episode of The Office before taking a bedtime almost as early as you.
You have big emotions in that little body; your temper knows no bounds.
You have limitless energy; your only speed most days is maximum speed.
There is a rebellious, defiant nature in you; you’ll look me dead in the eyes as you knock your cup on the floor for the third time that day.
To say you wear us out may be an understatement.
There are times when we’ve looked at each other with literally no idea what else to say or try. Your antics have virtually brought us to our knees. But of course, we cannot let you see that. Because you, my little terror, are a cunning warrior. You have sensed weakness in others and to be anything other than a brick wall to your shenanigans ends in nothing but chaos, with you in charge.
I’ve even resorted to parenting books for gleams of wisdom in this past year on how to deal with some of your more unpleasant, or dangerous habits. I never wanted to be a book parent, but sometimes, when you’re all out of energy, patience, and ideas, you have to look to others for some. (By the way, what I’ve learned is that no one else really knows what to do about a strong-willed, spirited child either. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.)
Even our family says you are unlike any of the other kids in our family have ever been. They have no advice.
But you are a wonderful child. I would never classify you as troubled, angry or difficult. You are simply…spirited.
There are moments where you show us your sweetness, empathy, intelligence, and love. In those moments, we know you will be alright, and so will we if we can all make it out of this alive.
When you say “Where’s my hug?” and “Kiss me!” as bedtime when you think we may have forgotten.
When you say “Check on me” after we say goodnight to you.
The way you say “Are you okay?” with such concern when we say ouch within earshot of you.
The way you climb in our bed and snuggle up some mornings.
The concern you show when Mommy or Daddy is sick. And the way you try to help us feel better with hugs, kisses and asking if we need medicine.
Your newfound fascination with spiders, bugs, and flowers.
The way you always want to help; washing dishes, cooking, sweeping and vacuuming, or picking out my necklace in the morning.
How proud and happy you are when you accomplish something all by yourself and say “I did it!” with a huge smile!
How you love to play and learn and try new things.
I could go on.
And we do see progress with the difficulties. But it’s like trying to see the forest for the trees sometimes. It feels like a lifetime of battles each day. But sometimes, at the end of the day, we turn around and realize that something you do wonderfully today, was one of those battles just a month ago. The time goes so fast overall, and yet so painfully slow in some moments.
You are our darling boy with a big personality. As tired as we are right now, we wouldn’t change you for the world.
Somewhere out in the world, we will need your unique combination of gifts and spirit. I have no doubts about this. You are destined for something great. We just have to get there. And this is the forest I have to try to remember to see.
To all of the other parents of a strong-willed, spirited child…solidarity, my friend. Try to see the forest.
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