This weekend, I attended my first meeting with the “Spirited Children” group here in Denver. What is a spirited child? In the past, I have always though “spirited” was just a nice term to describe spoiled brats, with mothers who clearly had no control over their behavior. Then I became a mother to Max. Then I became a mother to Zoe. THEN I read this article. I completed changed my mind and decided to join the group.
Spirited children are generally just more difficult. They are more emotional. They are high energy. They are stubborn as hell. They are generally just more child. This is my life. Max is sent to his room at least once before he even goes to school. Every morning is a battle. No amount of consequences or rewards (for good behavior) has changed that. If he decides he is going to refuse to do things or be in a bad mood, that’s the way it is. There is no breaking this child. I always thought I had it bad. Until I joined this group.
Obviously the meeting involved large amounts of alcohol, in the form of margaritas. Then the stories of people’s struggles started and *cue singing angels and violins*, I have found my people.
Max has always been very stubborn and strong-willed. And it’s becoming more and more obvious that he cannot seem to control his emotions. The slightest disappointment–a rained out soccer game, a canceled playdate due to illness, the realization that we have run out of peanut butter…..all of these result in complete meltdowns. He freaked out and stomped around crying two days ago because he spilled a total of three drops of water on his pants. No amount of talking to him can calm him down. And the will he has is impossible to match. The “tie-shoes incident”, as I like to call it, from a month ago is still happening. Every day I pick him up from school, and I mean every day, he asks me can he have a pair of shoes that tie and when I say no, because he doesn’t know how to tie yet, it results in a screaming fit on the way home. This is every day for the past month.
But my stories paled in comparison to some of the other ladies of the group. One lady said that her child screams until she’s faint and turns almost blue. She has left countless full shopping carts in the store because her daughter has freaked out over the fact that mom didn’t get plain Cheerios. She has to leave virtually every playgroup and music class that they go to because something sets her off and she simply cannot recover. She and her husband are not planning to have another child because they can’t face the thought of getting another one like this.
Another lady said she has two highly spirited children and they spend roughly 1/3 of the day screaming at the top of their lungs. Recently, they drove by a train and her son announced that he wanted to “hug the train.” When told that this was not possible to do, he screamed for two hours. They are so difficult, in fact, that her mother, their grandmother, refuses to babysit or spend any time with them (which I think is beyond evil, but whatev). Said grandmother spends a lot of time with all her other grandchildren. That’s how difficult they are.
Where am I going with this? I guess just to explain how nice it is to find people who understand and don’t judge. If you ever see a woman in the grocery store with what appears to be a wild spider monkey in her cart, don’t judge. That woman has probably done everything possible to gain some control, but absolutely has to get some food for her family. If it looks like she’s not doing anything, it’s probably because she is just flat-out exhausted from dealing with said spider monkey.