Monday, October 19, 2009

Just a phase??

My oldest daughter is 6.5 (and never let her hear you say she is just 6--she is 6.5). She is very energetic, curious, intelligent, and fun. She is also very anxious and terrified of any kind of change--and sometimes this is the part that comes to the surface when she is tired or stressed, as she has been lately. This makes parenting such a hard, hard journey. I can see how she is hurting deep inside and I can see how badly she just needs to curl up with her blankie and have someone take care of her...but because of her age and desire for independence, most of the time she simply refuses. And she refuses loudly, rudely, and unkindly to those around her--lashing out with grunts and growls and anger. We are trying to weather this storm as we weathered tantrums, teething, illness, bedwetting...but this one seems to be lasting longer for some reason. Maybe it is because I'm so tired and stressed about it all, but I find myself scared, truly scared, that she isn't going to grow up to be a kind person.

Since she was a baby, people have commented on two things--her blond hair and her vocabulary/intelligence. She began speaking in 3 and 4 words sentences at about 13-14 months. She had books memorized by about 15 months (we have her on video "reading" to us) and she hasn't looked back. Now, as a 6.5 year old, she is reading at about a 5-6th grade level, she is doing multiplication and division in her head, and she is truly energized by fun learning activities (building models and things like that). But this has resulted in a child who thinks that the only way to get attention and be successful is to be just that--either the prettiest one there or the smartest one there. And, because people continue to comment on her fancy dresses or academic abilities, I'm not sure how to change this. Because truly--really truly--I don't care how smart she is. I just don't care (perhaps someone out there with a child who is struggling academically would disagree with me on this). I want her to be kind.

And I know that kindness is there, I've seen it. I've seen her stick up for the shy kid in her class when others were picking on her. I've seen her let others have a turn on the swings first. I've seen her tuck her sister into bed when she is tired. I've seen this--I know it is there. But I can't seem to get it to come out when she is stressed and tired and going through change (no duh, right??). I know I'm asking a lot from her when I ask her to stop and take a breath. I know this. But when I see her react with such anger when she reaches the end of her rope, I worry. Because I'm her mother and that is what mothers do. Has anyone else been through this? How old is your child now? Are they adults? And honestly, tell me, are they in jail? If not, that would make me feel much better as I work so hard at loving every little bit of her for yet another day. Because that is the trick, isn't it? To love every little bit of her no matter what that little bit is throwing at you--sometimes literally.

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