Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Being the mum of the 'wild child'

I'm beginning to suspect that Eleanor is what people in gentle parenting circles would call 'spirited', and what people in not-so-gentle-parenting circles would call 'difficult', 'demanding', 'a handful' and maybe even 'wild'. How I describe her very much varies according to how stressed I am about it!!

She's not a 'bad' child, if you can even use that word to describe someone so young. She very rarely lashes out at other children, and while she will sometimes hit or kick me it's never maliciously - she either thinks it's funny or she's registering her frustration at me trying to change her nappy or physically restraining her from doing something dangerous. She can be defiant, but it's generally in a good-natured, jokey way. She's just not the kind of child who can sit still, or wait for things, or ... well ... do as she's told.

This is challenging enough for me at home but I have to admit that when we're out the eyes of others makes it seem so much worse. Yesterday, for instance, I took her to the library, as I do every Tuesday, for their Rhyme Time session. She had been getting a bit better at these sessions - she still wouldn't sit quietly but she was more engaged in the stories and rhymes. But for the past couple of weeks she's been hard work. Yesterday, she insisted on climbing on and off a soft block intended for sitting on, bouncing on it then jumping off. I was feeling a little embarrassed by it at first, and then another mum told her daughter not to do exactly the same thing and I felt a wave of disapproval that I would let my daughter be so 'naughty'. Whether that wave was real or imagined, I don't know, but try as I might to not let it bother me, it did.

Eleanor then started to try and escape the children's area by climbing over the gate, which resulted in her getting her feet stuck, shouting, then screaming when I unstuck her feet and carried her back into the circle. When it came to 'Ring a ring o'roses' at the end, she threw herself on the ground in protest, then cried when it was over and she hadn't had chance to join in. I felt so embarrassed by the end I was glad when she bolted for her pushchair and I could make a quick escape.

Today we went to a playgroup. She copes much better there as it's mainly free play, although I did have to cope with her shouting, "want a biscuit!" at the top of her voice while the leader was going through the notices before snack time, and while the other children were sat, angelically silent and bemused by my daughter's screaming and squirming. Then at the end of playgroup, she once again refused to join in with a song then cried when it was over because she hadn't had chance to join in. Sigh.

I must admit I'm struggling with this phase in Eleanor's development, but I know that it's me who needs to adapt to the situation, not her - she's too young to be expected to change. She will learn to be patient, sit still, join in etc. etc. all in good time but she's on her own schedule and I need to respect that. Still, it's hard when I feel like other parents and carers must think she's a 'wild child' and I'm not doing enough to rein her in. I'm very aware that our society prefers to force the child to change, using punishment and rewards, but that's not what I want to do. I trust my daughter to find her own way and I believe that when she does it'll leave her more confident than if I'd tried to coerce or cajole into obedience.

So, yes, I need to change. I need to become more patient with her, more organised so I'm not stressing out when she refuses to get ready to go out, more relaxed about how she's experimenting with her own physical abilities. And I definitely need to develop a thicker skin. Because even if people do think I'm not doing my job properly, I know I am. It's just that the job description I've made for myself might be different to the one they've made for themselves.

2 comments:

  1. I wish we lived nearer each other as we seem to share a lot of the same worries and challenges! Even when Bagl was tiny I was the mum walking him around the room at baby sensory classes or sitting him up at other groups where other babies happily lay down cooing at a toy. Bagl doesn't do sitting still (unless very tired) and always seems to want to do the stuff other parents don't want their children doing. We let him inspect all the grit bins in our village, he doesn't mess with them, he just likes to look inside each one before going on his way. The other day my husband had to deal with an older boy insisting that this was a bad thing to do and the police were watching, presumably that's what his mum told him so he woudn't do it. They will learn, it's true, it's just that some of us have children who take a bit longer to learn these things, not always easy (especially when you were the sort of child who did as you were told straight away!). Good luck!

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    1. Come back to Yorkshire Katherine, we can get together for communal worrying sessions! That's so cute that he likes to look at the grit bins, but yeah, I imagine it's hard to explain when another child has different 'rules'. I used to be more relaxed about it when Eleanor was younger but as she gets older and I see parents with similar age children imposing rules I do worry that I'll be perceived as a permissive parent. But it really oughtn't matter what others think. I have boundaries, I just enforce them differently and pick my battles carefully!

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