I have heard the term strong-willed child and some even say, “oh, I see you have an independent child there.” These are polite ways of saying basically that your kid is a brat. It’s true, I’m the parent of a brat. You, right now at this moment are textbook brat. Does it mean I love you less? Sure but we have plenty of time to work on that. I’ve mentioned it before about how difficult you are and I’ll mention it again because day-to-day life with you is work. As each month passes, I keep waiting for you to mature just enough that we find ourselves over this hurdle. Well guess what? It’s not this month. Your tantrums have been consistently on the uprise and I still remain hopeful that we will plateau at some point. There’s got to be a plateau, right?
After taking another lovely trip to the post office where you were determined to show everyone in line, just how “strong-willed” you were, we finally get up to the counter where I was positive I was going to receive another scowl from the post office grumps but was instead greeted by a postal worker with a smile! This doesn’t happen. The post office is right there with the DMV – these are people who hate life and it’s just oozing out of them in everything they do. I don’t blame them. If I were an employee at either place, I would probably act like death as well. This lovely woman was very different and probably not a post office veteran since it appears she still has her soul intact. She must have been watching me for the twenty minutes I was in line with you because she decided to share with me her horror stories with her son who is now 27. She went on and on about how difficult her son was and all sorts of doctors tried to medicate him to try to control him but she refused claiming, he’s just independent. She assured me that everything worked out. He’s now a calm loving adult who now has a child of his own that is giving him stress-related rashes. She claims this is the revenge we take as Grandparents one day – the opportunity to sit back and watch your child squirm at parenting. You know what, Miles? This has given me newfound hope and I’m determined to get there in one piece so that I can witness this.
I’m trying to approach parenting with you differently than I had approached it with Olivia. Screaming is proving not to be a very successful approach and my bribery tactic is starting to look a bit weak. You clearly have a lot of energy so I’ve been trying to find outlets for you to exert this energy in attempts to minimize the meltdowns. I’m still experimenting with this quite a bit because instead of you being the one who is exhausted, it’s actually me who is tired beyond belief from running you around taking you to these various activities. You’re swimming again despite your aversion to water but I’m forcing you to do this purely out of a safety stance. I refuse to have a child who can’t swim so despite you carrying on in the water for the whole thirty minutes each week crying that there is a shark in the water, you’re going to have to deal. I take that back, you don’t cry the whole time – you love the last five minutes of class when you do jumps. This is what you live for – hurling yourself in to a body of water with unharnessed fear. Unfortunately, because of your age, I still have to be in the water with you. I normally would love to have this one-on-one time with you, sharing in on an activity I adore but given your inclement take on the sport, I would much rather pay double to have someone else be in the water with you.
We have started soccer with you but again, because of your age, we have to participate with you. The first week was kind of a train wreck due to a typo on the schedule that caused us to wait for an additional hour before your class started. By the time class began, the excitement that you briefly exhibited, quickly wore off and the only things that remained were exhaustion and hunger. A combination that makes up the foundation of your tantrums. You refused to participate in the drills and instead found joy in picking up the soccer balls and throwing them at the other kids while Olivia cheered you on from a lawn chair. I quickly determined that this was going to be a Dad and son activity.
I walk Fabrizio every day and this used to be my quiet time because I could leave the house for thirty minutes while you and Olivia napped and since your Dad was working at home, I could quietly escape for just enough time to clear my head. Now that Dad is working in Oakland, I’ve had to start taking you and Olivia with me on these jaunts which can be challenging as I talked about here. I’ve tried to take advantage of these moments by making you both ride a scooter or bike to exert what ever energy is left before bedtime. Unfortunately, you only want to ride your plasma car which is fine if you knew how to properly play with it. You instead drag your feet as you ride it so I go through shoes every other week now. It’s insane how many shoes we go through so I’ve had to start taking the car away. This is by no means ok in your eyes. In fact this is one thing that can pull out a demonic sized tantrum out of you. I’ve tried discussing it with you, hiding the car, talking up your scooter and balance bike but none of it matters. You want that damn car that is proving to be the worst gift I have ever purchased. Of course these tantrums take place in our front yard so that all of our neighbors can witness me in all my glory. I can imagine the entertainment I’m providing as I chase you around our court as I drag our Corgi behind us as Olivia is standing in the driveway professing how bored she is.
I always exhale really loudly once I tuck you in and close the door because I know I survived another day and I know I have at least nine hours or so before we start this adventure all over again. Unfortunately, you have discovered that it is more fun to get out of bed and play. I learned of this one night as I was sitting downstairs watching television. I was extremely relaxed, believing that since it had been at least an hour since I put you to bed that you were fast asleep at that point. I heard some commotion from the dining room. I glanced briefly thinking it was Fritz and instead saw you on all fours on the floor pretending to be a lion – crawling slowly towards me while growling. I continued to watch in disbelief as you continued this masquerade all the way in to the family room. You never once broke character so I thought maybe you were sleep-crawling? Turns out you’re just a very good actor who had a burning desire to be a lion at 10:00 at night.
Life with you is far from easy and I know I laugh and joke at our relationship but it’s really all I can do to prevent myself from going off the deep end. I worry constantly whether your behavior is normal for an active boy your age. I’m sensitive to any behavior disturbances because your Aunt has mental health issues and I can’t help but be scared that you don’t carry those genes. No parent wants to see their child dealt a shitty hand at life whether that be something due to poor choices or things beyond their control. I’m hoping that it’s a long shot that you share these similarities with your Aunt but it’s there and I can’t be blind to that. You’re still way too young for me to jump to those conclusions but I’m on alert. I’m already protective of you due to your speech delay and I know I can’t protect you all day every day but I can remain hopeful that the good traits will overpower the less than desired. I’m hopeful that the story the postal worker shared with me will be a story I can share with you again when you’re a struggling Father with a child that just won’t calm down. And if you have a child who is a blessing and doesn’t cause problems, I will babysit them and load them with lots of candy and bourbon so you can experience, even for one night, the joy of watching a “strong-willed” child and I will sit back and relish in my revenge.
You, according to my phone: