Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Little Validation Goes a Long Way

My blog has evolved over time from being simply about good eats to also being a forum where I can voice about parenting challenges. I guess this is just another type of "food for thought".  And heck... it IS my blog. I can write about whatever I want, right????
I return today to the topic of parenting.  Specifically, parenting Logan.  

Logan has always been a challenging child.  In politically correct terms, we could call him a spirited child.  To-ma-toes tah-mah-toes.  Let's just call a spade a spade and say difficult child.  Adorable, super funny, loveable, challenging child.
I guess he was challenging from the day he was born.  Though I didn't realize quite how challenging he was until I had Chloé and realized how laid back some babies can be.  I used to describe him as an easy baby.  Looking back, I can see that he really wasn't.  And why my friends laughed at me when I said that.

This temperament has continued, as he approaches his two year birthday in just about a month (*sniff sniff*).  There is no question that this kid keeps us on our toes.  He knows what he wants, when he wants it and insists that he get everything 10 minutes before he's even expressed a desire to have it.  He's quite impulsive, has low tolerance to frustration and has a hard time calming himself down when he's upset.  He can go from giggling his head off to being in a 30 minute long screaming fit in the blink of an eye.  I sometimes can't even figure out quite what triggered the change. 

When Logan is happy, he's exploding with joy and enthusiasm and the whole world is happy.  

And when he's not... well that's a whole 'nother story... (note the blurriness of some of these photos, as Logan tantrums it out):

Being quite an analytical person, I've thought lots about our challenges with Logan.  This self-reflection is sometimes driven by someone insinuating (or even flat out commenting) that maybe it's due to something we're doing wrong as parents.  And sometimes it's just in an effort to brainstorm as to whether changes could be made that would have a positive impact.

I've questioned whether we've been overly indulgent with Logan.  If he has perhaps learned that he gets everything the second he wants it.  After all, that's what people are quick to tell me. But my gut has always told me that this is not the case.  Heck, I work with preschoolers day in and day out.  I certainly don't think that I'm a parenting expert, but I know all about setting limits, being consistent, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah until I'm blue in the face.   

Even though he was my first, I didn't run to him the immediate second that he cried, knowing that I didn't want him to learn that the entire world revolves around him. From a young age, I used cues such as "wait", "in a minute", "coming", etc.  Which must mean that I wasn't giving in to everything he wanted immediately, right??   In fact, these words were all a part of his early vocabulary, making me realize just how young he had to learn to wait with a baby sister close in age.

Yeah, yeah.  I hear ya.  I think too much.
Despite all of the chatter and opinions from people galore, giving perspective on what we need to change and despite my constant reflection, I came to the conclusion awhile back that it is just who Logan is.  A driven, determined, passionate, relentless soul who won't let anything get in the way of what he wants.  And one day, this will make him a great leader. 

It's probably also partly his age.  At least, that's what I'm betting on...

Upon picking Logan up from daycare the other day, one of the caregivers commented the following to me: "I've been a teacher for 35 years and I've worked with a lot of difficult children.  Your little Logan... well, he's really quite challenging". 
That says a lot.

I think that a lot of people would have been offended by this.  Me??  I felt relief.  Relief that it wasn't just in my head.  Relief that I wasn't the only one who found him tough to manage at times.  Relief that this is probably not really about how we parent him and more just about who he is at this point in time.

Now I'm not trying to suggest here that I'm the only one in the world who has a "spirited" child.  Heck, there are whole volumes written about the subject, so I clearly can't be the only one to have such a child.  And from the constant conversations that I have with friends and even random strangers, it seems to me that the world is full of these spirited children.  

I am also clearly aware that Logan is likely not the most challenging child in the world.  I can keep things in perspective.  However, the acknowledgement that he is also probably not the easiest child in the world has gone a long way towards making me feel like my feelings about the challenges of raising him are real.

I'm not doing it perfectly, but I'm doing it as darned well as I can. And that's gotta count for something.

This all being said, we have moments when he is utterly happy and completely delicious to be around.  And regardless of what kind of a day it is, I do cherish my time with him as I know there will come a day when he no longer wants to cuddle with me when he gets up in the morning (even if it has to be at 4:30 in the morning).  And a time when he will no longer want to have anything to do with his uncool mom. 

The more challenging aspects of parenting is part of why I started my 'favourite moments of the week' in my posts. To remind myself of the great joys of being a parent and to help keep in perspective the not so great moments.  Because challenging or not, I love my little guy to death and wouldn't trade him for the world.

This weeks' favourite moments have included:

- watching Logan kiss each and every Disney princess on the poster at Toys 'R Us.  Apparently, we are also going to have our hands full when he's a little bit older!

- Logan telling me he was going to "be back" (yeah right!) as he quickly ran away from me as I tried to get him in the car. 

- watching Logan dance like a maniac and scream "mommy dance" as he watched our recent zumba video.

- watching Logan and Chloé interact as Chloé gets older.  She now lights up immediately when he looks at her and follows his every step with her eyes. Love :)


Lee-Ann said...

Spirited children are tough and they truly do feel things a lot different from the rest of us. My boy is definitely spirited and just like Logan when he is happy he is over the moon but when he is not it is bad and it can go either direction in the blink of an eye. If you haven't already, definitely read Raising your Spirited Child. This really helped when I was in the midst of raising a spirited toddler/preschooler. Good luck. :)

Food for Thought Linds said...

Thanks for the suggestion, Lee-Ann. I have heard of this book (from Kristy, I think) but have yet to get around to reading it. This reminds me I need to make it a priority. We are also becoming aware that Logan has some sensory processing issues, as with my niece Madeleine, which I think also explains part of his "spirited" personality. But I think it goes beyond that and is also just part of who he is, so I'm sure this book will have lots of good tips :)