I don't often publicly sing the praises of my children, but today I'm going to do just that. Well, at least for one of them, because I am seriously the luckiest mom ever and someone just HAS to know about it. And maybe cause secretly I think you should all be just a little jealous. I'm joking, probably.
My oldest child is the most perfect child on the planet and I'm not just saying this cause I'm biased, although I definitely am. Her teachers, bus drivers, friends' parents, neighbors, etc. all tell me so. She's years ahead academically, her behavior is flawless, she's sweet, giving, thoughtful, she's everything that everyone wants in a kid.
I never have to yell at her. I do occasionally have to speak to her about her choices, and by occasionally I mean once every two months or so, but I just say that she didn't make a very good choice and I'm disappointed and we're good to go for awhile. Even her "bad choices" are trivial, ridiculous things. Like she picked up all the toys in the play room but forgot the Barbie in her bedroom or she didn't put the toothpaste in the medicine cabinet, instead it's behind the sink. Nothing major and they happen so rarely that I hate to even say anything to the child at all, but then I start to feel guilty cause I'm yelling at her little brother and sister constantly.. constantly!.. and I don't want them to feel bad cause I never have to say anything to her.
She's sweetness and light and everything right with the world. The only thing that ever upsets her is when she can't help me around the house. She begs to fold laundry, literally cheers when I tell her she has chores, enjoys cleaning, wants to help in the kitchen, and if I don't have anything for her to do at the moment she gets upset. It's the only time her smile fades.
She dotes on her younger siblings. You can commonly find her curled up on the couch and reading books to them, or breaking up an argument, or helping them with buttons and zippers, reminding them to use their manners, the child is amazing. If she's playing with something and someone walks up to her and wants it, she walks away and finds something else to do. No tears, no whining, no arguing, just walks away from it.
I spent years trying to teach that girl to stand up for herself, open her mouth, don't back down.. basically trying to turn her into me, and do you know what happened? She was kicked out of school for not being emotionally ready, she was painfully shy, she couldn't interact comfortably with her peers, she was a mess.
About a year ago I decided that what I needed to do was build her confidence. So I stopped pressuring and reminding her to be more like me and just let her be herself and what has happened has been beautiful. She has blossomed into the most wonderful human being I've ever met. She even volunteers to be in front of the class and she has more friends than I can keep straight. Her teacher is head over heels in love, which is a completely mutual emotion.
The problem I had in parenting my first one was that I thought I had control. Silly me! I control nothing. About the best I can do is suggest things, stand back, and hope for the best. In the end they're gonna do exactly what they were meant to do, be who they were meant to be, and nothing I can do/say/believe/think/force is going to influence any of that. I'm glad that I've learned to step back and let them blossom, and I'm even more thankful that I live with a walking, talking reminder to do so, cause sometimes I really need the reminder. Who woulda thought that the moment that I chose to relinquish control would be the moment that everything fell into place? There's probably a lesson in there somewhere that I can use in the rest of my life... Nah, probably not.