Raising a spirited child is a blessing and a challenge.
They have this beautiful resilience about them and we know in our hearts that this will be vital in adulthood, but we are caught in this balancing act we call parenting.
On the best of days, I am in awe of my wild one. He is imaginative, compassionate and downright determined. He says such profound things that fill my heart with joy and wonder.
On the days when my patience runs thin, I wonder if I’ll be strong enough for him. I breathe, and count and even walk into another room, but on the worst of days, I break down and yell, only causing a fight.
Butting heads with a wild one only causes them to push harder. On these days I want to pull my hair out in frustration.
This was not what I pictured parenting would be like.
Demand from a wild one, and they will demand from us. Teach a wild one, and they will teach us, too.
One day I realized that everything I want for my son already comes so naturally to him. His independence, determination, wit and deep compassion will help him navigate through adulthood in our society.
I realized that instead of trying to shape him it was my job to guide him. Guide him to better choices and morality, and away from harm. That is, after all, the meaning of discipline.
It is easier said than done with wild ones.
Redirecting and guiding is a process of trial and error. Validation and positive reinforcement may work one day and not another, and at times it seems we have to be three steps ahead so they don’t figure out our methods.
We have to think ahead, be quick to adapt and learn to roll with changes.
We must forget about any personal idea of perfection. I remember laughing when a mother in a breastfeeding group asked,
“How do we get them on a schedule?”
What I didn’t realize then, is that I was raising a wild one.
His mind leads me to believe that he will do great things. He loves to learn and explore. Sometimes, I fear for him, though.
Will his energy levels be too much? Will his determination stay on the path of hard work and kindness? Will he transition into adulthood in the way I hope?
A wild one, like my son, wakes early and is instantly filled with energy. He’s jumping on the bed and running throughout the house before you’ve had a chance to say, “good morning.”
He is determined, throughout the day, to help people see what he sees and understand his wants and needs. He hugs tighter, laughs louder and stands firm in his stance on things for much, much longer.
All day he jumps, climbs, tells jokes and will firmly and without a filter tell you when he disapproves. He is outspoken and honest, and has to be moving or talking during all waking hours.
Not every wild one is this way. While they share certain traits, they are all unique.
A wild one, like my sister, will talk about her passions for hours and isn’t afraid to speak her mind.
The young girl who once sat on the steps to her friend’s house, refusing to leave with my mother for well over an hour, is the same girl who was accepted to and successfully attended a challenging college, and is now applying to grad school.
Growing up with her, I have experienced the same pride and frustration that I experience now with my son. She has more quiet moments as an introvert than my very extroverted son, but I see the same independence, determination, wit and resilience.
Seeing her success gives me such hope for my son’s future. It lets me know that with guidance, he will absolutely be capable of great things.
To the parents of these wonderfully wild children:
First, a big hug.
Self care is important when raising these beautifully spirited souls. We must remember to recharge, as we will need the energy. Coffee can only do so much.
We are exhausted, proud, frustrated and amazed—sometimes all in the same day.
Going out is a challenge, not knowing if they will melt down or act with kindness. Getting ready can take minutes or an hour.
Their minds blow us away. We cherish those little moments of peace and cry when our children decide that nap time is a thing of the past.
Let’s be thankful for the lessons. Let’s find and hold onto little moments to be grateful for, and remember that the wild ones can help shape and change our world.
We have been given this wonderful challenge.
Let’s say it together: Challenge accepted.
Author: Sarah Chase
Apprentice Editor: Brandie Smith/Editor: Caitlin Oriel
Photo: Courtesy of the Author // troy_williams/Flickr