Two weekends ago it was just us girls about to head out the door for a shopping trip. Before we left I asked Jettie if she’d like a little photo shoot. You could have knocked me over with a feather when she excitedly said “Yes!”. Our daughter is not one to enjoy being in front of the lens. This session lasted all of about 7 minutes, just enough to make my heart burst with joy.
We keep hearing 3 is harder than 2. Girls are harder than boys. Children can become anxious with the upcoming “change” of a new baby. Obviously not every theory runs true for every child but since the beginning of this year Jettie’s emotions have went from high to off the charts. The word “no” is extremely difficult for her to absorb. Things not going the exact way she wants them to is unbearable. Being dropped off and then having to leave places almost always include crying, screaming and often outrage. Fears that she has always had are X100 now. We have seen a different child the last few months. An elevated version of issues we thought we had somewhat worked through. It has been difficult to say the least.
My evenings lately have included many google searches on how to deal with a high emotion toddler. The recommendations are endless and helpful in many ways. Staying calm, letting your child know you understand and validating their feelings are at the top of most lists. All sound advice with creative ways of getting from point a to b. Recently I made the mistake of reading the comments of an article and came across this: “I wish you people would stop calling your children “spirited” and say what is really going on, bad parenting.”. Ouch. Must be nice for them to have the ways of raising perfectly behaved children all figured out.
While I do become frustrated, get embarrassed and feel overwhelmed by Jettie’s behavior I refuse to accept that a. we are bad parents or b. that she is a bad child. For the most part she is pleasant, happy, sweet, silly and caring like most children her age are. It’s those intense, inconsolable moments that have us concerned. Sticky and I are highly sensitive and passionate people on many levels including our emotions. It is only natural that our daughter would have similar traits. On the other hand I find much comfort in the fact that she is not scared to express how she feels. As a child, adolescent and teen I was a champion of suppressing feelings (and to this day am still working on improving). I admire her bravery to communicate without reservation and accept responsibility for guiding her on how to do it in a healthy way. It is obviously not something that is going to happen overnight. There have been and will be many many hard days to come. But in the silence of the night with only my loud thoughts to keep me company all I can think about is how proud I am of her. Failure would be extinguishing that fire or dare I say “spirit” inside of her.
Tonight is swim class, something Jettie excitedly looks forward to and talks about. Last week’s class started promising, became rocky and could not have ended worse. She is by far the most difficult and uncooperative child there. Her fear took over after a mouthful of water less than 10 minutes into class. The girl would be loud beside an ocean, given an indoor basement pool and she’s breaking sound barriers. I could feel the world staring at her, at us, judging and questioning our every move (whether or not anyone actually was). It is extremely frustrating and heartbreaking to watch other children enjoy something I know she would but can’t get over her own reservations and crippling emotions. We have talked about class all week, reinforcing that the teacher will help her if she falls and that it is very important to stay in the pool the whole time. She has agreed to and repeated what we have said. We can only be hopeful tonight goes more smoothly. And if it does not that is ok. We will try again next week, and the week after and after. Jettie doesn’t want to give up and we are not going to give up on her.
One thing is for certain, no child is perfect. Thank goodness Jettie is no exception.