I had a hard time with the willful ones, and by hard time, I mean I occasionally -- once or twice a day -- thought my child was an asshole. Definitely a brat. I felt bad about it the second I thought it, but the thought was there nonetheless. I also felt like total crap as a mother, complete failure. The Boy threw tantrums and constantly courted death by exercising skills he hadn't yet mastered and ignored me when he wasn't demanding I pay total attention to him. We had a rough couple of months, as I reminded Michelle the other day when she was bemoaning Peanut's newly acquired tantrum skills.
My advice didn't really help her because every child is unique and no parenting trick is one-size-fits-all and blah blah blah. But I did assure her: It gets better.
The Boy started talking and LORD! I cannot tell you what a difference that made. Once he could tell me, even a little teeny bit, what he wanted, The Boy became frustrated less often. Without tantrums every other second, I felt like The Boy was less a screaming machine and more a little person. I stopped worrying about failing as a mother and started just being a momma. I realized I was pretty good at it, thanks -- in large part -- to little tricks from my mom or grandmas or other mothers I know.
And the last few months have been golden, as I've watched The Boy's personality emerge and started having conversations with him. Tonight, on the way home from school, he told me, "Boo-boo. Big boo-boo. Fall big boo-boo." I asked him where his boo-boo was and he yanked his leg up in the air. Sure enough, there was a large red mark near his knee. Six months ago, I would have seen the red mark and fretted all night about what caused it. Now I know: He fell.
How cool is that?
We just started Operation Independent Play. We've had some successes and some failures. When Baby2 arrives, I'm sure The Boy will regress and have some tantrums and the husband and I will be overwhelmed. But I'm confident we'll get through it. We'll adjust and the baby will grow and The Boy will show what a big boy he is. He's already starting to show us, negotiating sand digs with other kids at the beach on his own and walking away from our blanket at the park to go play with the big kids in the splash fountain.