My Toddler Isn’t ‘Spirited’, She’s Just A Little Shit*
*A little shit who I would jump in front of a bus for, before any of the nasty comments come in.
My toddler is an arsehole and I am sorry.
She’s one of those two year olds commonly referred to as ‘strong willed’ and ‘spirited’. I will agree with the strong willed part (if that child doesn’t want to do something, God help you) but she’s not ‘spirited’: She’s an absolute shit.
Don’t get me wrong; she can be lovely when she wants to be. Or more specifically, when things are going her way. Give that child a packet of Oreos and the IPad on full blast and she can be an angel. Try getting her to do anything she deems as unreasonable, such as leaving the playground or sharing with another child at toddler group, and you will unleash the wrath of the underworld.
It’s not bad parenting.
I know this, because I have a now 14 year old who was exactly the same as a toddler. It was the pits and I used to cry myself to sleep some nights worrying about his behaviour, how to stop it and of course, how I must have caused it with my terrible parenting.
I read endless parenting books and tried every technique from the naughty step to gentle parenting, but nothing changed. It was just who he was, a fighter from birth (born premature with lung problems, his sheer anger and will astounded the nurses when he flipped himself over in his incubator during a rage when he was a week old) and not one to take anything lying down or to follow the crowd.
It was fucking terrible when he was a two year old and steadfastly refused to join in with signing at the end of playgroup as in his words “Wheels on the bus is rubbish, this is boring”, which was horrifyingly embarrassing at the time.
He was awful at any activity from when he was a baby and would only join in if it was something that interested him. Playgroups were a disaster as he wouldn’t join in with the crafts, wouldn’t sit and listen at story time and wouldn’t share with the children that he didn’t like (pretty much all of them).
It used to make me so upset and made me feel like the worst mother on Earth.
12 years on and he’s lovely. That ‘take no prisoners’ temperament mellowed as he got older and by the age of 5, most of the nastier behaviors had abated and actually turned on their heads. For his 5th birthday, that little shit at playgroup who all the other parents tutted at, decided that instead of presents for himself, he wanted to give toys to Bernardo’s. That’s quite a change from the two year old who would fight to the death over another child’s fire engine.
Now at 14, he is caring and brutally honest, but also very kind. He still isn’t easily led and refuses to follow the crowd, even though he’s quite popular. He still doesn’t feel the need to do something just because everyone else is doing so. So maybe, as a toddler, he was just growing and finding his way.
That’s why I am far less worried about his sister.
She is a carbon copy of him. I look at her at playgroups, refusing to sit in a circle, walking off to do her own thing when all the other children gather for snack or story time and it’s like I have travelled back in time and am watching my son. Yes, she’s a shit of a toddler. But one day, I am hoping that that tenacity and sureness of her own self will do her big favours in life.
Just say it how it is and don’t call her spirited.
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