To the Mom of the Difficult Child

I say mom, this is really for both parents, but I am also writing this to myself. A pep talk to keep up the hard work of raising the unruliness.

You know if you have one: strong-willed, high-needs, hyperactive. You don’t have to think twice whether or not your child falls in to one of the more demanding personality categories.
They keep you on your toes, rarely letting you relax when you’re on an outing.
It’s all about the mental state. Thinking ahead for when the inevitable meltdown happens, hoping your redirections and distractions have an affect yet knowing that sometimes it can be a longshot.
Because your little one is focused, decisive, determined, unrelenting energy. The qualities wanted in a CEO, not in a toddler.

On a good day you’ll think about how museums and other children-frequented venues should have a tantrum corner, a well-padded and soft place so little ones like yours can have a safe place to flail around and get their frustrations out.
On bad days you’ll be keenly aware of the aghast looks of other parents, shocked that you let such a horrendous monster loose upon the world.
You’ll think that it must be nice for parents of docile and gentle children, ones that don’t go barreling down the path the moment they’re freed from the stroller, that don’t have to be called to repeatedly, that aren’t so excited that they upset kids around them with their energetic manners and attempts at play.

You’ll hear other parents talk about their lack sleep, wondering if they too have had, at most, a month’s worth of uninterrupted sleep since your nearly two-and-a-half-year-old was born. Wonder if theirs hardly take naps, and also mentally prepare themselves to the fact that their little one just won’t be taking a nap that day or the next.
You’ll appreciate the other moms when you’re out who smile and say “he’s so excited” or “mine too” when yours goes off the deep end. Sadly, they don’t stick out in your mind as much as the other moms, the ones who don’t appreciate your little one’s enthusiasm, who’s looks say they cannot believe you allow your child in public like that, who tell you that “he needs to go” when he was trying to play in the play space at Chick-Fil-A—that was only once and it still gives me pause before letting him go in there.
You’ll want to stop going out. Avoid the stares, comments, suggestions on your parenting.
You keep working on your plan of attack for when he loses it or wants to play to energetically with other kids for when you brave taking him out.
You start to feel isolated because you don’t see any other mom’s in your group with kids like yours.
So here’s my pep talk to you momma.
Keep it up. Lord knows you need to, no one will understand and love that uncontrollable child like you.
So trust your instincts. Refrain from worrying about how different your parenting style is from those around you. You’ll learn to pick your battles and notice that you allow more freedom than most because you know the fight’s not worth the energy and you’ll learn which social events to avoid because of the impact on your nerves.
But you’ll also be a brick wall, steadfast in the limits you’ve placed for your child no matter the loud, attention-grabbing, flailing protests they devise.

You’ll hold your angry wiggling child and walk through the crowd with a calm face, and all the other parents will think you are a Zen master—unfazed by anything.

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