My shy, delicate child has moved on.
She's no longer the timid soul she once was last year and the year before that. She's turned into a butterfly and then some. My daughter is now a wild, outspoken, utterly determined force of nature.
And... she's kind of been a brat lately.
There, I said it.
What every parent sometimes thinks about their own children but feels completely terrible saying out loud. The label that's so easy to throw onto other people's children but not your own.
There comes a time when your child may become that kid. The bratty, miserable bully who won't listen. The kid who may push and throw a fit over having to share with others. The kid who cries when they don't win. That annoying, whiny monster.
Yup, I'm there right now. Feeling the confusion of not understanding why my child has suddenly transformed into a moody mean girl as she gets ready to leave the toddler years behind and start preschool.
All of a sudden I imagine phone calls home from her future school complaining that she's not being nice and not sharing. The dreaded fear that your kid is simply not playing well with others.
Is it the influence of other children she's playing with? Is it me? Of course I'm the one who spends most of the time with her so right away it must be my fault, right? The attitude must be coming from the person she sees the most.
Only I don't subscribe to that. My child comes from a loving, peaceful home where she is cuddled, positively reinforced, taught manners, appropriately disciplined, and played with often.
I can only hope this is a phase that passes soon. Other moms have told me that this is normal and this is how they learn.
I find myself watching other children the same age at the store or park and monitoring their temperaments -- comparing. Many times I see my daughter's exact behavior. That's reassuring.
So many parenting books, and still so little answers when you're in the midst of a massive meltdown over someone else holding a ball, or not being able to find a specific toy. It's also when you're in the middle of a store and your child becomes enraged over you pushing the cart instead of them and it takes 20 minutes to get them calmed down. By then exhaustion has set in and frazzled becomes your middle name.
But then there are those times when you see your "moody" child thriving and accomplishing so much that you feel guilty for ever agreeing to label them as "mean" or having "an attitude."
But when your child is playing with a group of other children and clearly not being nice, sometimes you just have to give in and validate other parents with an admission of responsibility that it's your child with the problem, not theirs. Because one day it will be their turn to take the brunt of the blame.
The admission of guilt is usually verbalized as, "I'm sorry she's just tired," or "she's just hungry and cranky, I'm sorry about that."
We all have bad days as adults. We all go through tough lessons and spurts of growth that are painful. It doesn't mean we're bad. It's just a bad day.
I have never once referred to my child as "bad" in her presence and I never will. She's not bad. She's human. I'll correct her for her "not nice" behavior, of course. But I won't actively put her down in a negative way just to please a parent whose child mine wasn't sharing with.
Many of us adults forget that often times we don't play well with others either. We forget that there's always that toddler deep inside all of us, throwing a tantrum.
The best I can do for my child, is to keep loving her, teaching her, and pray to God this passes soon.
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Originally a Vancouver Island native, Michelle now resides in California where she is an ex-corporate slave, mother, stepmother & wife.
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