Admit It- The Child is Difficult, Not Vivacious

Have you ever thought that about your own flesh and blood? You know the thought. You think it but you don't dare speak it. The though is this, "MY GOSH, this child is difficult!!!! Would she just sleep for love of all that is holy!?"

There is a lot of talk about how we describe our children and their personalities. High need, sensitive, smart, even (my favorite) vivacious! It kind of makes me laugh that we have to use words that truthfully, kind of sugar coat things.

I have a hard time being dishonest. Actually, I can accidentally be so truthful that I am outright rude. The same is true when it comes to my own children.

(Disclaimer- I fully expect to be torn apart for this post. But at this point I have realized that people will tear me apart for pretty much anything no matter how I meant it or not so I am throwing caution to the wind.)

Yes- I have a vivacious, sensitive, intelligent and high need child. Around here though she is often just referred to as "stinker pot" or "stormy" for her frequent turns of mood.

Oh we love her. And I mean we LOVE her. We really love her. She is the third so she has a brother and sister who both dote on her and adore her. Sometimes I think that if I had a favorite it would be her. (Of course I don't have a favorite, that would be wrong.) But I tell her every day that she is my favorite baby -- EVER.

She makes me laugh more than any of the other children ever did. I enjoy her more than I can describe. I thought she might be my last so I just held her and loved her and soaked her in when she was born. She is incredibly smart and talks and sings and plays earlier than I remember the others ever doing that. She is a joy and the most entertaining, fun filled child I have ever seen.

And though I would love to describe her as vivacious when she screams "NO!!! MINE!!!!" and smacks somebody in the face, honestly, that is not the first word that comes to mind. And though I know that as a supposed attachment parenting mom I should embrace the sleepless nights with a 17 month old who still wakes every two hours, I actually just want to scream. I guess I could scream but she is already screaming so it would be REALLY loud in the house if I joined in, at three AM no less. I should enjoy the sheer amount of NOISE that one child can produce on a nearly constant basis expressing her every need or displeasure or ache or pain. But, sometimes I just want some peace and quiet.

(I am not looking for advice on sleep training, co-sleeping, getting adjustments, parenting tips or anything else.) At this point in life I sincerely believe that some kids are just not good sleepers and some are. That is just how the chips fall sometimes. Some kids like to please those around them and will adjust their behaviour to do so. And some kids realize that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and so they squeak.

Language is powerful and I understand that. I see the point in using nicer words to describe a child than the ones that immediately come to mind. I understand how calling contractions "rushes" could prepare your mind for a more painless labor. I have heard of labeling theory and I get it.

I also realize though that sometimes the truth is just the truth. Sometimes a kid is harder than others. There a lot of factors: circumstance, birth order, personality, patience of parents, and so on.

The point is not that we dare not tell it like it is. The truth is that sometimes a child is harder than another. Sometimes a child refuses to cooperate in the ways we would like. But the bigger truth is that there is nothing wrong with that.

Will I sometimes say this sweet child is difficult? YES! I will. Because it is sometimes the truth. The other half of that truth is that I love her all the more for it. I enjoy her more because she is strong willed and amazingly intelligent. My love for her grows stronger BECAUSE she requires more patience and kindness and understanding, not in spite of it.

So here is to embracing that difficult, screaming, no sleeping, "oh my gosh I think I am getting a tooth, you know that means I will wake up screaming hourly for a week mom" child. There is nothing wrong with the truth, difficult or not.


Betsy said…
You are describing my second child. Oh, she makes me CRAZY but she is just as passionate in her loves as she is in her tantrums. :) I honestly feel that she makes me a better person because I have to step back and re-evaluate CONSTANTLY. Nothing comes easy with this one, but she makes me laugh till I cry sometimes! Good post.
Krista Eger said…
I love your posts so much. I think all my comments begin with that, but well, it's the truth.

Sometimes you just have to hear it from another mom that you're not the only one!

Our problem is not the lack of sleep, but just craziness. He just moves non stop, he always gets into things, climbs on things, draws on things, pulls pages out of books to force you to make paper airplanes out of. Since he learned to move around at 5 months I've been on my toes since. He is FINALLY starting to settle down and is getting easier. He is very intelligent in art and music, but his language development and understanding is a little slower than some kids his age. He talks just fine and he's getting better, I just wish he understood things better. Like when he asks for a banana and I say we don't have any then he has a tantrum because he just thinks I'm not getting it for him and doesn't realize I can't. Anyway yeah I love him so much and he makes every day brighter. I think every child is difficult in their own way :D
Mama Birth said…
Krista- you crack me up! Thanks for the feedback ladies.
Unknown said…
You got it right!

But remember that the child is "difficult" because as a child, a parent needs to assert control many times a day - but the child resists being forced, led, convinced, cajoled, etc. She knows what she wants, why she wants it, and has a boatload of persistence to get it.

Those same characteristics will make for a super adult. If you both survive! :-)

Unknown said…
Dedicated lurker here. ::waves:: I just had to comment because, except for the lack of sleep (he's 5), you're describing my middle child. He drives me absolutely nuts, but I love him to pieces. I have to remind myself like 1000 times a day that those very qualities that make me insane will make him an awesome adult. LOL
Christina said…
First time commenter here.
You are describing my son 100%. He was a reflux, colic baby, who never slept through the night until 17 months. He never drank from a bottle (despite going to daycare at 6 months). We HAD to resort to CIO when I hit a pole driving to work from dozing at the wheel...
Now he sleeps all night (he's 2.5), but still in our room or bed. He is a very strong-willed child and KNOWS what he wants. He drives us crazy, but has the biggest personality and is LOVED by everyone. He is so much fun and says/does the silliest things.
We have number 2 on the way, so we will see what we will get this time :)
Mara said…
I think I have 2 of these - together they equal one "vivacious" child:) Kudos to you for having the confidence to write about it openly and honestly.
Kristi said…
As always, I appreciate your honestly. My little butter bean is not quite 8 months old. But I'm going to file this one away in my brain for future use!
Monika said…
Wow did you hit the nail on the head!!! This is exactly who my daughter is. And I love her because I love all these qualities but sometime I just want her to do what I say. She has caused me to change my mind ALL the time. And I love it. I agree about the sleeping thing too. My son was always a great sleeper. And I took such pride in it. But it had nothing to do with me or my parenting that I had a 2 year that would tell me he was ready to go night night. It was his personality. And hers is the exact opposite.
I thought I was the only one with this kind of child. Thank you for making it known that I am not alone!!!
Susan said…
Our second kid will probably finish us off. As a parent to 6 kids, I've seen plenty of variety! Even my most difficult child, and that changes in cycles, makes me warm and fuzzy.

Great post!
LivandLex said…
Your comment that you love your child more BECAUSE of the difficulty really speaks to me. My oldest is currently exploring her boundaruies and testing me at every possible opportunity. I have had to become a more patient person and remember to be more kind with my thinking because of her. I absolutly love her more each time she challenges me to be a better mom. Sometimes the only thing I can do to stay sane with her is to love her more!
Anonymous said…
I often say my second daughter is wonderful, charismatic, selective, determined, generally joyful, (even vivacious, because she truly is) - and exhausting. And by exhausting I mean challenging, or difficult.
You pretty much described her in your post about yours, except that mine is now two and still doesn't sleep through the night. Whether it's due to circumstance, birth order, personality, patience of parents,or some other cosmic reason, honestly, her disposition is the reason I won't even consider trying for another baby until she's at least three.I don't think I could handle her dependency and that of a baby, god forbid another baby as demanding as she was and is.
Christina said…
Haha - I love this one :-) We say our son is "intense" or "energetic", except at 3am, when I say "you little monster, can't I get some sleep?" :-D
Tamara said…
I am the proud momma of two very loved "booty heads!" My first was difficult since day one, my second was easier, but now at two has decided to make up for lost time LOL! Neither of them slept through the night until almost their second birthday, and even now each night seems to bring on a new nighttime adventure of one kind or another. Our days are filled with many antics, but we have learned to try to embrace the crazy. I will never forget when our pediatrician said that parenting these little girls will be rough, but we will be happy that they have these strong willed traits as women. I just keep telling myself that as I lock myself in the bathroom to catch my breathe ;o)
Unknown said…
Oh how my wife and I can connect with what you are saying and experiencing. We love you for sharing your thoughts and more importantly your feelings.
happy.mama said…
I use the term "busy" for my (still) hyperactive daughter, who's now eleven. I think she coined it herself, and it's now my term of "endearment" for other busy children. ;)
Melissa said…
I call my second child passionate, because she is 100% into something or 100% against it. She would not sleep more than 20 minutes straight until she was about 9 months old. She sleeps now, but is still a very picky determined child that I love to death even though she drives me crazy. My third child is slightly more easy going, but at 26 months, she is still waking up 2-4 times every single night, and I cannot wait until I get to sleep a little more.
The Mom said…
Yep, this is my first-born. I say she's "difficult" all the time but make sure she's out of ear-shot. Then feel guilty for saying "difficult" but thanks for reminding me its ok to be honest!

She will be 4 in a few months. And she is incredibly strong-willed, but keeps me laughing all day long with the crazy things she says. If I'm not laughing, I am locking myself in the bathroom crying and asking God to please help me raise this child right and keep her on the right path to using these amazing qualities of hers (which drive me crazy) to do wonderful things as an adult.

We have #2 on the way so we'll see what happens next. :-)

I think every parent has at least one of these children!
Machado Family said…
I love your posts! My son is 17 months and although he was the EASIEST BABY, I have been so challenged since he was about 10 months old in that he became mobile and hasn't stopped. He touches everything every stinking day and he is SMART! He knows it's a no-no, but does he care? NO! He is incredibly smart and PERSISTENT, but when I take a step back I realize how amazing of a person he will be if I can help channel his strengths to benefit him as an adult and still survive everyday of chasing him and sounding like a broken record...:) Again, thank you for writing real truths of parenthood...:)
janepeace said…
My fist child was High needs and then before I knew it I was prego with #2. I love her so much but somedays I think I have ptsd from when she was a baby. I stll have flashbacks that make me want to hide in the corner. Luckily I was blessed with the other 3 being "normal" kids with 'normal ups and downs. This was a great post. Thank you so much for your honesty.