So I have this one kid who just doesn’t care about what anybody else says, she’s going to do her own thing.
She loves all animals, real and make believe. She loves tiny little toys with smiling faces, especially if they are her favouite foods. Ice cream cones with faces make her beam with joy. She’s crazy about minions despite (or because of) never having seen any of their movies. She’s always cutting things out and at age five has better fine motor dexterity than many adults. She has a great sense of humour (I mean, she laughs at my jokes) and boundless energy for running and climbing and tumbling.
She is a true delight and I am proud of her head-strong determination. Except not when we’re trying to get dressed in the morning. Or get our shoes and coats on. Or get in the car. Or when I’m called in for a meeting with the vice principal because she just won’t listen and the teachers are worried about keeping her and the other children safe. And certainly not when she gets out of bed for the thirteenth time right when I finally sit down to watch Stranger Things.
Just this past summer a camp counselor called me because she had to be carried out of the pool and refused to get changed out of her swim suit. “So let her keep it on,” was my solution because I have learned not to pick any battles when it comes to that kid.
But now (knock on all the wood) she seems to have turned a corner. She has decided to start listening. She has decided that she wants to cooperate and, I think, she is better able to break away from whatever she is engaged with in order to do that.
I lay out her clothes in the morning and she is the first one out of bed, dressed, and downstairs for breakfast. Last year, we had to chase her around the living room with her school pants.
Both her teacher and her lunch monitor at school tell me that she’s like a whole other kid. Last year they needed to let her do her own thing and this year she actually participates.
And then, last night, we had a very quick visit with my parents. When it was time to leave, I said very calmly, “Okay, we have to go get your sister now, so you need to put your toys away.” Immediately, she cleaned up all the toys, put them back, and then proceeded to get her shoes on.
I’m standing here blinking because I can’t quite believe this is the same kid.
I’m sure she still has a defiant streak somewhere deep down (and, honestly, that’s a good thing), but this turnaround means that routine transitions no longer have to be a battle. It means, really, that those early parenting years are behind me. And after ten years of wrestling kids into snow pants, I am more than ready.
All I ask is a for a small little break before we hit the tween years.