- They both like to put inappropriate things in their mouths
- They both like nuks and blankets
- They both like to dig through the garbage
- They both like to unroll the toilet paper from the roll
- They both like to eat food off the floor
- They both require me to clean up their stinky poops
- They both steal things that don’t belong to them
- Neither of them understands boundaries
- They both impede getting out the door
- They both require you to close all the doors to all the other rooms
- They both like to rip paper into tiny, tiny pieces
- They both move methodically from prohibited item to prohibited item
- Neither one can be left alone unsupervised
- They both respond to the same commands – out, stay, leave it
- They both get ridiculously messy
- They both see an open lap as an unequivocal invitation to sit in it
- They both invoke hysterical laughter, which combined with their cuteness, means you can’t stay mad at them for long
I tend to let my emotions rule my world. When I read, see or hear something really sad, whether real-life or fictional — i.e. spouses dying, children with terminal illnesses, child abuse, sexual assault, people battling with addiction — I sometimes can’t shake it for weeks. It stays on my brain. Sometimes I’ll even avoid reading or watching something because I know it will affect me for longer than I would like.
And thank God Extreme Makover Home Edition isn’t on the air anymore. Husband really liked that show and for the last several years I’ve refused to watch it with him. Within two minutes of the show starting I can’t stop crying. It’s just too sad.
I’ve always been an emotional person. I have high highs and low lows. I get really excited about things. My friends tell me that I’m always the first person they call with exciting news because they know I’ll be so excited for them.
I also take some things to heart more than I should. Is it possible to have too much empathy? It’s something that I’ve managed better as I’ve gotten older.
In my life today, I think my biggest challenge is not getting too emotionally caught up in certain aspects of motherhood. What mother doesn’t always want to do the “best” or “right” thing for their kids? After reflection, I think my subconscious fear is that one “mistake” or one single decision is going to impact my kids’ lives forever. As if I only have one shot. As if the one day (or 20 days over the course of their childhood) that I go out of my mind with anger is going to be their only memory of their childhood.
Honestly, it’s not a real fear; it’s not something I think about on a daily basis. But I think my personality and temperament of:
a) wanting to control
b) wanting to do everything “right,” and
c) getting overly emotionally invested,
Sometimes leads to this “all or nothing” subconscious fear.
So anyway. Not only am I realizing that this isn’t realistic, I’m also realizing I need to cut myself a break. There needs to be more of a margin for error (for me and the kids). We are human, after all. People get mad. Sometimes really mad. It’s not the norm in my household. I feel terrible, I apologize to my kids and we move on.
I need to just let it go instead of hanging onto it and feeling terrible for days.
In my last post I wrote about how frustrated I was with Bean and her typical terrible two behavior.
I was venting, and over-the-top, and being dramatic, and not at all objective because I was getting out the culmination of all my pent-up frustration over the last several months. And we had had a rough morning.
(I also was trying to be funny with my quip about my mental image of her “running away” from bad things like drugs, peer pressure, etc., when she’s quite literally running away from me because she doesn’t want to do things. I think it’s kind of funny to see her naked butt in my head.)
It’s not that I don’t trust my gut, or trust my instincts, sometimes we just need to vent. And sometimes another perspective is helpful.
Sometimes when you’re in the thick of things you lose sight of the overall perspective. The “can’t see the forest through the trees,” sort of thing. Being an emotional person, this is the type of thing I struggle with when it comes to myself — I can console another mom (or person) all day long, but then I’m really hard on myself.
You would think that with Bean being my second child I would remember that these are phases, and they pass. They just really suck while in you’re in them.
After the last post I had two friends share this message with me (“I Don’t Want to Raise a Good Child”) about raising spirited kids, and it was exactly what I needed to hear.
In particular, this part:
“I don’t know what mama needs to hear this today. But let me encourage you from the bottom of my heart with three simple mothering perspectives you must hang on to:
1. Don’t take too much credit for their good.
2. Don’t take too much credit for their bad.
3. Don’t try to raise a good child. Raise a God-following adult.
You have no idea how much this meant to me: “I don’t know what mama needs to hear this today.” I felt like God was speaking directly to me.
It’s exactly what I needed to hear.
Oh, and one more thing. If you haven’t been introduced to Momastery yet, please, let me introduce you. Because I started reading Momastery in January, and once again, I felt like it was God (via Glennon) speaking directly to me.
- About losing your schmit with your kids: http://momastery.com/blog/2012/01/24/closer-to-fine/
- About bullying, homosexuality and religion (and what if one of your kids was gay): http://momastery.com/blog/2012/01/22/a-mountain-im-willing-to-die-on-2/
- About addiction and recovery (Glennon is a recovering alcoholic and bulimic; it’s not something that I’ve ever personally struggled with, or even known anyone who has struggled with it, but I find myself being drawn to this topic): http://momastery.com/blog/2012/01/27/recovery-2/
- About what it feels like to have three kids: http://momastery.com/blog/2012/01/29/one-two-three-4/
All four of these posts came in a span of one week. Every single one of them spoke to me.
I. LOVE. HER.
The greatest thing that I took away from her addiction post was that when you don’t know what else to do, pray to God and alternate between “Thank you” and “Help me.”
I think everyone can use that advice.
Another thing that was exactly what I needed to hear.
Lately, I feel like everything with Bean is an epic battle to the death. And obviously, there are no winners.
Here’s a typical scenario from our house in the last three weeks:
The mere mention of going to the bathroom and getting dressed sends Bean into a flailing tantrum complete with arm waving (and mostly unintentional) hitting, kicking, tears and screaming. We’re talking head thrown back, on the floor, ear-piercing screams.
Sometimes, she will willingly take off her clothes, but then when I suggest getting dressed, she just runs away. If I happen to grab her before she gets away from me (because I refuse to chase her), then the above tantrum ensues.
Most of the time Bean is all too happy to get into pajamas, but the tantrum inducer is when (gasp) her father, (God forbid) attempts to help her with getting ready for bed. Last night as I was brushing Monkey’s teeth and told Bean that daddy was going to help her, the above tantrum ensued. Same goes for helping her go to the bathroom, getting her pajamas on, washing her hands, you name it.
I made homemade waffles last weekend. They were dang delicious and so much easier than I remember. Especially now that my waffle iron is accessible and I learned not to overfill the darn thing. Bean loved them. But then she accidentally dropped one of her last two pieces on the floor. No biggie, right?
I picked it up and threw it away. Bad idea. Cue tantrum. Except a mealtime tantrum has the added bonus of Bean being strapped into a chair, thus able to fling her body back and forth and all around without falling out. It’s awesome.
I was stunned.
I explained to her that the waffle was dirty, but that it was okay because I would give her one of my waffle pieces.
Didn’t matter. She wasn’t hearing it. She wanted that dirty waffle piece back and there was nothing I could say or do to make her happy.
And generally, that’s how it goes.
The instant something happens that she doesn’t want (or the suggestion of something she doesn’t want to do), it’s the end. There’s zero ability to talk with her. There’s no communication. She just shuts down.
All of the wonderful parenting techniques that we employ with Monkey (all of the parenting articles I’ve been poring over), don’t really work.
- It doesn’t matter if I give her choices. She just screams “NO!” back at me about everything.
- It doesn’t matter if something is a rule (establishing rules and expectations so that I’m not the bad guy). “The rule is that when we get up in the morning, the first thing we do is go to the bathroom.” Or, “The rule is we brush our teeth in the morning and at night before bed.” We run through all the people who brush their teeth and go to the bathroom in the morning. Meh. Most times she could care less what the rule is.
- Asking her if she wants to do something now or “in a minute” always gets the “in a minute” reply. But then when 5 minutes goes by and I tell her it’s time to do XYZ, generally we still get the tantrum or the running away, or the running away followed by the tantrum (like this morning).
- We’ve been really trying to talk to the kids like we would talk to another adult. The example in an article I read was along the lines of, “If you saw an adult knock over their milk at McDonald’s you wouldn’t jump up and start berating them about how clumsy they were and how they should be more careful and then huff off to get some paper towels.” Not that we’ve ever done that; generally we’re pretty calm about those types of things. But, you get the point, which is, “Don’t treat someone poorly, or more importantly, force someone to do what you want, just because you’re bigger than them.” Because that sets up all sorts of problems that leaves kids vulnerable to sexual predators, peer pressure, etc. How-ev-er, like I told Husband, if he dropped his piece of waffle on the floor and I threw it away because it was dirty, he wouldn’t start flailing his arms, kicking his legs, throwing his head back and screaming. I’m pretty sure we’d just talk about it.
And that is my biggest frustration. There’s just no communication. No opportunity for any of the above. The only thing that somewhat works is empathetically saying how I think she feels. “I know you’re mad, honey. I know you want to keep playing. I’m sorry that we have to get ready for bed.” But even if she stops to listen to me, she still doesn’t then cooperate.
The only time she wants to do something is when she can possibly beat her sister to it. Which honestly is unfair to Monkey because then Monkey’s always second. Or, if Monkey beats Bean, Bean still cries and has a tantrum. Good grief. I’m exhausted just thinking of all the tantrums.
I feel beaten down. I feel like I’ve just had it. I am pulling out all the tricks and it doesn’t make one damn bit of difference.
I don’t yell much. We don’t spank. We do use time-outs, although this Aha Parenting Web site advocates for doing time-ins (sitting with your child) instead of time-outs (which apparently make them feel isolated and alone with their feelings). I tried that this morning with Bean when she wouldn’t cooperate about getting dressed. She just laid in her bed (naked) and yelled at me to get out. I stayed anyway. I have no idea if it helped.
Up to this point we’ve been trying to follow Love and Logic parenting techniques (I say “trying” because we like the philosophy but we don’t always execute) which focuses a lot on empathy and consequences (as well as choices, routines/rituals, etc.). However, Aha Parenting advocates for not issuing punishments or consequences (unless they’re “natural” and not “parent-imposed” consequences) because when kids are acting their worst, that’s when they need you to love them the most.
Aha Parenting argues that when kids are dwaddling and being slow getting ready for bed, the last thing they need is for you to yank away stories or cuddle time as a consequence. But when we’re running out of time to get Bean to bed (and we KNOW she’s probably acting out from being tired), it seems like a natural consequence that if you’re not cooperating and you’re making things take longer, that you don’t get stories. It’s not even really a punishment! It’s not like we’re saying “No stories because you’re being sassy or because you hit your sister.” It’s a natural consequence. We ran out of time. I feel conflicted about this whole “consequence/punishment” thing.
I don’t really yell much. BUT, when pushed, I do raise my voice (not to a yell, but it’s raised), I do get a mean look on my face, I do lose the ability to negotiate and communicate and just start barking orders. Basically, I get angry and frustrated. I also say things I shouldn’t; things that I try not to say. And then I find myself still saying them: “Why do you have to be so uncooperative?” “I am so sick of this.” I know this is bad because I’m sending her the message that she, as a person, is bad.
Day after day, night after night, these are my interactions with my child. She knows that I’m frustrated. One of the things I remember from the Love & Logic CDs is that if you send your child the message that you can’t handle them, they’ll think, “Geez, I must really be bad if even my own parents can’t handle me,” and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The kid acts worse and worse, and the parent is less and less able to get a handle on the situation. I’m afraid that’s going to happen.
I also feel like the frequency of these occurrences makes it more and more difficult for me to remain calm when they happen. I’m immediately on edge because I feel like I already know the outcome (major tantrum), and no amount of choices, or empathy, or quietly speaking to her, or whatever is going to help.
I feel like a failure. Not just because she’s not listening and cooperating. But because there’s no room for any negotiation, communication, education, discussion. Period.
Aha Parenting says “Kids who feel connected to their parents naturally want to please them,” and that:
“Defiance is always a relationship problem. If your child does not accept your direction (“I don’t care what you say, you can’t make me!”), it’s always an indication that the relationship is not strong enough to support the teaching. This happens to all of us from time to time. At that point, stop and think about how to strengthen the relationship, not how to make the child “mind.” Turning the situation into a power struggle will just deepen the rift between you.”
Since I seem to be engaged in a non-stop power struggle (epic battle to the death), obviously I’m not connected. Failure.
My child does not feel connected to me, she will think that I think she’s a whole lot of trouble and that she can’t be contained, therefore she will become increasingly troublesome, and basically I just ruined her chance at becoming a successful person, not to mention we don’t have a relationship.
I know this is extreme, but it’s my fear.
I am not used to this. I am not accustomed to encountering a problem that I can’t solve, even with repeated effort. Am I not trying hard enough?
Can anyone tell me they’ve been through this and have come out the other side with a happy, well-adjusted, still free-spirited but more reasonable child?
Will this get better? Will time (maturity with age) make this better? Will she become more reasonable so that I can actually employ these very useful techniques that seemed to work so well with Monkey? Am I ruining my child? Is she not connected to me?
I will also add that I think she’s definitely not getting enough sleep.
After getting through the difficulty of her wanting us to be in the room while she fell asleep and waking excessively at night (2-5 times every night), we’re now dealing with her early rising. She goes to bed beautifully now, but instead of sleeping until 7 a.m. like normal, her waking has gotten earlier and earlier. First it was 6:45 a.m. Then it was 6:30 a.m. The past two weeks it’s been 6 or 6:15. And today it was 5 freaking 40 A.M.!
She’s also started taking shorter naps. At least I feel like that’s more normal for her age — she just turned two, so I can’t really expect her to continue taking 2+ hour naps. An hour and a half is more in line, but sometimes it’s only an hour and 15 minutes, or like yesterday — 45 minutes! Between early waking and shortened naps, she is just not getting enough sleep.
And thirdly, her picky eating is at an all-time high. We trying our best to follow the advice of our pediatrician who tells us every time I express concern over her picky eating, “Your job is to prepare and serve healthy food. Her job is to eat it. If you start bribing, rewarding, coaxing or cajoling, you’re not doing your job.”
So, for the most part, we serve the food. Sometimes we’ll ask her to try one bite (she always refuses). But do you know how hard it is to serve your child a meal that has all the components of something they would like (or have eaten before) and have them push it away on sight, screaming and crying??? Or just start picking things off the plate saying “Yucky?” (Yes, I’m sure you do, because you’re probably a parent reading this). UUUUUGGGGGHHHH.
I bet Bean is down to a list of 20 things that she’ll readily and gladly eat, not including dessert, and only two of them belong to the fruit/vegetable category.
Since we don’t make separate meals, and since we nearly always give dessert (so as not to set up a good food/bad food paradigm), Elise gets a lot of yogurt for “dessert.”
Do all of these things mean anything together (lots of tantrums, not getting enough sleep and picky eating)? Am I missing something?
I have been praying. Praying that God will guide me, help me, direct me to the resources I need. I pray that he will let Bean see how much we love her and that he will open her heart to listen to us.
Believe me, I DO NOT want to crush Bean’s spirit. I do not want her to grow up believing that people who are bigger than her get to tell her what to do.
I get it that it’s a good thing that she isn’t going to do what she doesn’t want to do, just because someone else says so. I know that research shows that she will be “almost impervious to peer pressure.”
But in the meantime, I don’t know what else to do.
Aside from reading parenting articles, pouring out my feelings on this blog, asking for help, and praying, the only thing I can think to do is this:
Every time I see her naked butt running away from me I’m going to think, “She’s running away from drugs,” or “She’s running away from a stranger trying to harm her.”
Every time I see her flat-out refusing to do what I ask, I’m going to think, “She’s saying no to underage drinking,” or, “She’s saying no to teenage sex.”
At least that’s what I’m going with now.
But I’ll repeat my plea: Can anyone tell me they’ve been through this and have come out the other side with a happy, well-adjusted, still free-spirited but more reasonable child?
Will this get better? Will time (maturity with age) make this better? Will she become more reasonable so that I can actually employ these very useful techniques that seemed to work so well with Monkey? Am I ruining my child? Is she not connected to me?
It’s almost two weeks late, but I didn’t want to let my Bean’s second birthday go by unmarked.
She is such an interesting child. She is so determined. I think her biggest daily goal is to keep up with her big sister, and it doesn’t EVER occur to her that she won’t be able to do something that her big sister can do.
Whatever Monkey does, Bean does. When Monkey runs, Bean runs. When Monkey jumps, Bean jumps. When Monkey climbs, Bean climbs. When Monkey screams, Bean screams. One time Monkey jumped up in the air and Bean mimicked her so instantaneously that I couldn’t help but laugh.
A few weeks ago we went to a local indoor activity gym with a giant climbing obstacle. Bean ran right in there after Monkey and Monkey’s friend, and managed to climb up the first few obstacles by herself. Eventually the spaces between the levels got a little too tall for her legs and she cried while I looked on from the floor level. She wasn’t crying because she was scared though. She was crying because she was mad. Monkey had gotten so far ahead of her and she couldn’t keep up.
Monkey, bless her heart, came back and gave Bean a boost at each next level.
The girl has no fear.
This past weekend we went to the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells, which has a gigantic indoor water park. In the center of the park, was an expansive multi-level kids play area with slides as tall as 20 feet.
This is what it looked like.
We no more than walked over to it, and Bean was already making her way to the top. The very top. Like, I was literally running through this thing to keep up with her. She got all the way to the top, pushed past the line of 5-, 6, and 7-year-old kids waiting for the tallest slides, and stood expectantly in front of the lifeguard who nodded at her and motioned her over towards the yellow slide to which she casually walked over, sat down, and went. I got there just in time to see the lifeguard nodding at her (did he not see her push past all the other kids waiting in line??), and incredulously watched her go down like she had done it a hundred times instead of her first. I frantically started waving to Husband who was 20 feet below that she was on her way down. The pool at the bottom of the slide was only six inches deep, and the slides were okay for kids as young as her, but still! She just took off and didn’t wait for anyone’s approval or permission.
A little too brave for her own good, if you ask me.
She also followed her sister up this rope wall without any hesitation, and mastered it after the second attempt.
I think her favorite word is “Me!” As in, whatever Monkey says she wants to do, or we tell Monkey she can do, Bean is right there to echo “ME!” because she wants in too.
I think Bean will be the type of child who constantly is emulating her big sister. And given that Monkey is a natural leader, I think it will be a good thing. I feel very blessed that their “short” age gap (just under two years) has led them to be the best of friends. They’re always looking out for one another.
Bean remains loving and empathetic as she tends to her babies, and while she can be very cuddly and clingy, she won’t give up kisses and hugs when she’s in a stingy mood.
She has more interest in reading books (by herself), and still wants to color and draw like her big sister.
She’s never been a real big “entertainer,” like her sister, but we do notice her laughing and trying to make us laugh more often. I know that sounds weird, but she was never that baby who would just laugh and laugh at your silly antics. It was only six months ago that this was still her face du jour:
And she continues to challenge us in ways different from her sister. After reflecting for awhile, I think that Bean is more strong-willed than Monkey, but Monkey was no cake walk either. Monkey was the child who, when transitioned to a big girl bed, was an ABSOLUTE TERROR. Ev-er-y single night she would rip ALL of her clothes out of her drawers, scatter her books all over the room, and tear the diapers out of the box in her closet. Every night. FOR MONTHS. Bean has not done that even one single time. She mostly stays in her bed and the “worst” she’s done is gotten out of bed to read books.
Bean seems to have more of a desire to control things, have things her way, and is less willing to listen and cooperate than Monkey was at the same age. Maybe this is because she’s the second child and is constantly “keeping up” with her sister, rather than getting to choose things for herself. Maybe she wants to leave her own mark. She also seems to want to experiment with pushing the boundaries more than I recall Monkey doing. Latest case: after being potty trained for a month, she’s majorly regressed. After ruling out a bladder infection and constipation, her pediatrician and I think it boils down to peeing in her pants because she can. Because she wants to gauge our reaction. She wants control. I find it highly unlikely that she forgot her body’s cues because she still proactively asks to go to the bathroom for No. 2 and hasn’t had any poop accidents.
I have to say, that I may be putting on my rose-colored glasses when reminiscing about Monkey’s Terrible Twos. I mean, at the time I certainly remember thinking she was *extremely* challenging. I wonder now if I’m forgetting some of the most challenging parts, or if Bean really is more challenging; or, like I said, that they’re just challenging in different ways.
I’m hopeful that as her vocabulary is starting to expand, she’ll be more apt to communicate with us so we can reach compromises, rather than just throw fits and/or run away when we want her to do something.
One thing I know for sure — she is one smart kid.
Her pediatrician just reminded us this week that the traits we find most challenging — her stubbornness and desire to control, will translate into really good things later on. She definitely has a strong sense of self.
Finally, here’s a fun little thing I saw on Pinterest that I thought would be fun to do with the girls every year on their birthdays. Technically, you’re supposed to start when they turn 3, so Bean is a little young for this, but here goes:
20 Questions with Bean — Age 2
1. What is your favorite color? Pink
2. What is your favorite toy? Baby doll
3. What is your favorite fruit? Um. Nothing. The kid doesn’t eat fruit. She eats vegetables. Preferably green beans
4. What is your favorite TV show? Sesame Street
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Mac and cheese
6. What is your favorite outfit? Nothing in particular, except she has to pick it out
7. What is your favorite game? Trouble (because she likes to push the bubble)
8. What is your favorite snack? Cheese, Goldfish crackers, pretzels
9. What is your favorite animal? Dogs
10. What is your favorite song? Mr. Bassman (Laurie Berkner)
11. What is your favorite book? Duck and Goose: How are you feeling? (she loves to make the “angry” and “happy” faces)
12. Who is your best friend? Monkey
13. What is your favorite cereal? None
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? Climb, swing, slide (but without getting her hands dirty)
15. What is your favorite drink? Milk
16. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas?
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Blanket, lovey and Curious George
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Eggs
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? Mac and cheese and green beans
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? TBD
Me (calling to Monkey in the bathroom): “Monkey? Do you need help?”
Monkey: “I’ll be right out.”
Me: “What were you doing in the bathroom so long?”
Monkey (pauses): “I was cleaning the toilet.”
Me: “Oh.” (pondering this). “What did you clean it with?”
Monkey: “I don’t know.”
Me: “What do you mean you don’t know? What did you use to clean the toilet?”
Monkey: “I just don’t know.”
Me: “Monkey, what did you use to clean the toilet? If you were just cleaning it, what did you use to clean it?”
Monkey: “I just don’t know.”
Me (putting down the head of cauliflower, looking right at her face, and speaking very slowly): “Monkey, WHAT, did you use, to clean the toilet?”
Monkey (stares back at me, says nothing)
Me (rinses hands): “Come with me to the bathroom.”
(We walk into the bathroom. Upon entering I notice a perfumey scent but the toilet looks normal)
Me: “Show me what you used in here to clean the toilet.”
Monkey: “This, mommy.” (pointing to her hair and body wash).
Me: “Mmm.” (pauses, thinking) “And what did you do with it.”
Monkey: “Mommy, I just squirted it on the toilet.”
(I bend down and examine the toilet seat. Upon further inspection I notice that it’s glistening.)
Me: “Uh huh. And then what did you do.”
Monkey: “I just used my hands like this.” (she uses both hands and vigorously rubs them up and down on the toilet seat to demonstrate how she cleaned it)
Me: “Okay, that’s enough. Now we’re really going to clean the toilet. Follow me.”
(We walk into the kitchen where I grab the paper towel and bottle of Fantastik)
Me: “This is the cleaner we use for the toilet. Only grown-ups spray it.”
Monkey: “Okay, mommy. And then I can use the paper towel to wipe it?”
Me: “Sure. And, we only use your shampoo and body wash to clean you. Not the toilet or anything else.”
Monkey: “Okay, mommy. I’ll never, ever, ever do that again.” (walks out of the bathroom and sees her daddy) “Daddy, I’ll never, ever, ever, do that again.”
Maybe when she’s 10 I’ll remind her of how excited she was to clean the bathroom.
So last week in my typical Type A personality, I was perseverating on what Bean’s personality is like. I once had a supervisor use that word with me in a performance review. He said I had a tendency to perseverate on things when it wasn’t necessary and that I needed to learn to move on. Basically, he was telling me in a really nice, fancy-word way that there were things that I could not control, I was not always going to get my way, and that I needed to stop being so godd@amned stubborn.
I probably was trying to convince him of something. My cousin once told me that I could convince her to do anything. That I could convince her to eat dirt. This was after I convinced her to try this breath mint after she kept telling me how much she hates breath mints. Like, really hates them. I swore it was “different,” and listed off a million reasons why. It wasn’t. At least not to her. In my defense, I really thought she would like it. I don’t know if I’m really that good of “convincing” people to do things as I am at being persistent (you may remember the ham sandwich incident when I was a kid). Or, persistently annoying maybe? I also had a co-worker tell me that I missed my calling and should have been a lawyer. Hmm. I think public relations suits me well. I have a heart. A big one. And lawyering is too cutthroat for me.
On a related note, I was over at my parents’ house several months ago and came across an old sixth grade report card. In the notes section, my teacher had commented something along the lines of “has tendency to argue and exhibit stubborn behavior.” In sixth grade. Who knew? The die was cast. Obviously, both my sixth grade teacher and my co-worker were right about me. I just think it’s ironic that the same themes have been coming up in my performance reviews since I was a kid.
Which brings me back to my original point — figuring out what kind of kid Bean is! I know, you probably think I’m ridiculous, or that I am spending way too much time analyzing this. And while I was half-joking that I wanted to know so that I could just KNOW, and be more “in control,” I also really meant it when I said that I felt like I could better attend to her needs if I better understood where she was coming from. In work, I’ve always said that I can deal with almost any personality type. If I can figure you out, I can work with you. It’s the ambiguous people that I have a hard time with. When I don’t know what’s going on in someone’s head, that’s when I struggle.
With Monkey, it’s kind of easy to know the best approach to take because she’s so much like me. I just think about what I would want. But Bean is different and I’m trying to figure her out!
I came across this Parenting.com article about the nine distinct traits that make up a baby’s nature. At the end of the article it said:
“Almost all temperamental traits can be positives when you learn to work with your child’s particular constellation. That’s what’s known as goodness of fit: the ability to accept your child and help him adapt. In the end, it’s your perceptions and reactions to his traits and behavior that will go a long way toward shaping your baby into a happy, well-adjusted child — which in turn will bring you more satisfaction.”
Exactly! The reason I’m feeling a need to know is so that I can achieve my goodness of fit and learn the best ways to work with my baby.
SEE! I’M NOT CRAZY AND OBSSESSED WITH CONTROL.
Or maybe you all thought it was normal that I was wondering this and not crazy at all, and now it seems a little weird that I’m trying to convince you that I’m not crazy and you’re starting to think I am crazy.
In my Googling frenzy I found some online baby personality quizzes that I thought I’d pass along in case any of you are also not crazy like me, and simply just wondering, for the sake of better attending to your baby’s needs, what their personality is like. Or maybe you already know what your baby’s personality is like and want to confirm what a genius, well-attuned mother you are. Either one.
I’ll warn you — these quizzes are obviously highly subjective. I mean, how on earth can you answer this for a nine-month-old:
“When your baby is going to play with a sibling or a friend:”
- He’ll only play with what he wants to play
- He’s willing to compromise
Huh? She’s a BABY. Yes, I definitely would interpret that series of grunts and mouth-clicking noises as her willingness to compromise.
Also, sometimes none of the multiple choice answers were accurately describing Bean, so I had to just pick the closest one.
But, I did find some interesting results.
In the Babyzone.com survey, Bean was characterized as an “Active Adventurer: active, curious and into everything, this baby is a force to be reckoned with.” Yep. ‘Bout sums it up.
The Parents.com quiz said that I have a “Type A” baby. Seriously, what are the other personality types?? (Okay, I guess it’s just called Type B. How lame and obvious. This Wikipedia entry doesn’t paint a very flattering picture of a “Type A.”)
I’m a Type A and so is Monkey, so I guess it’s no surprise that Bean is too. This category is described as “intense, persistent, stubborn and competitive.” I would say that she’s persistent and stubborn. Competitive? I don’t know, she doesn’t like to give up her toys, but how can you really identify competitiveness at this age?
The Yourbabytoday.com quiz said that Bean is “expressive and energetic without being intense.” I would agree with that. She “is happiest with a predictable routine.” Yes, definitely. And “Enjoys physical activity, but also quieter moments.” Her initial response is “slow to accept new situations and tends to avoid the unfamiliar,” but she is “fairly adaptable to new situations in the long-term.” I would definitely agree to that. While Monkey tends to be a social butterfly, Bean will hang close and then eventually warm up.
And again, I thought the Parenting.com article had some really interesting insights without being a quiz. The nine distinct personality traits that make up a baby’s nature are:
- Activity level
Obviously her activity level is off the charts and she thrives on having a routine. She’s pretty serious and shy in new social situations and takes awhile to warm up to new people and places. She’s more adaptable over the long term and she can be intense at times. One thing that struck me about intensity: “Life may seem easier with a less intense baby, but you have to work harder to understand what she’s thinking.” Um, yeah! With Monkey I never had to guess. When she was happy, she was HAPPY. When she was mad, she was MAD! With Bean, it’s not always as obvious.
I also loved this about the “distractibility” trait — “It’s a cinch to keep an easily distracted baby out of trouble or avert temper tantrums. Simply steer her away from the light socket and she’ll forget about it. But keep in mind that things may distract her in a negative way — a noisy room may disrupt her feedings. If she’s more focused, she may not notice, for example, a lawn mower when she’s settling down for a nap.”
Yes, again! This totally describes the difference between Monkey and Bean. Monkey is MUCH more easily “distracted” which has always worked to my advantage with her intense personality. I can easily move her on to the next activity to avoid temper tantrums. Whereas Bean is more focused. Which may explain why she is so “focused” on climbing up my leg! She knows what she wants and she is so persistent! I think Monkey is fairly persistent, but now that she’s older she’s more likely to huff and shriek when she can’t accomplish something, whereas Bean will just keep doggedly trying.
So what’s the bottom line? I think she’s somewhere in the middle of “spirited” and “laid back.” She’s not as intense as her sister, but she’s no shrinking violet either. And her most obvious characteristic is how physical she is. Is she really a “Type A?” Meh. There are degrees of Type A. I’m not really sure yet. But I do know it will interesting to watch it all unfold.
I’m curious to know if you took any of these quizzes for your kids and whether you think the results are accurate.
I don’t really know what to make of it. At nearly nine months old, I still can’t quite figure Bean out — her personality that is. I just don’t know what to make of her. For the first three months of her life I labeled her as easy going, laid back, and chill. She could fall asleep anywhere, anytime. She would fall asleep at night VERY quickly and easily, after being laid down fully awake but sleepy (AT TWO MONTHS OLD!). She would fall asleep in her little rocker, without anyone rocking her to sleep. She would fall asleep in the car. And she would sleep for a loooong time. For naps she would sleep at least two hours, three times a day.
And she rarely fussed. She did not have an insatiable need to be held. In fact, I spent a lot of her early months feeling guilty for not holding her MORE, because she was always sleeping, and when she was awake, I was holding her some, but she also was being laid down a fair amount so I could attend to her older sister.
And all of this sleeping was oh so contrary to all of my experiences with Monkey at this early age, where sleep was a daily struggle. And, Monkey always wanted to be held. From the moment she was born she wanted to be UP. She wanted to be AWAKE. She wanted to be ENGAGED. She wanted to SEE. Monkey’s personality was so evident from so early on. She was a handful. She was busy. She never stopped moving. She was opinionated.
At four months, something with Bean changed. It was as if she hit four months old and suddenly became fully enthralled with this big world. And she developed this personality. I’m not kidding you — it was sudden and dramatic. It was night and day. Like someone flipped a switch. She had been, “sleep, sleep, sleep, eat, sleep, sleep sleep, what? we have another kid in the house?” To “I’M HERE. LOOK AT ME. HOLD ME. I WANT TO SEE. I WANT TO EXPERIENCE. HOLD ME, HOLD ME, HOLD ME, HOLD ME, HOLD ME.”
And while we have gone through our share of sleep fluctuations with Bean, the fact remains that she still loves to sleep. It’s very normal for her to take two 2-hour naps. In fact, last week she slept for over 2.5 hours, woke up close to 4:30 p.m. and then was yawning, cranky and irritable for the rest of the night because she apparently was still tired. Ca-ra-zy.
(I do have to point out though, that these naps only take place at her Nana’s house; when she’s home with us on weekends or on my days off, she naps like crap. This is the same thing Monkey would do, and at the time the girls’ doctor assured me it was only because she wanted to spend more time with exciting mom and dad. I still think it sucks.)
And I wonder, was I mistaking her desire to sleep as having a laid back personality? Because the more and more time goes on, the less and less I think she is “laid back.”
Now, Bean never stops moving. She’s SO physical! And I thought Monkey was physical, but Bean has outpaced her!
She is vocal — we’ve probably had more crying and fussing in the last two months than we did in her first six months combined! And the crying and fussing reach extreme levels when she’s tired, which she seems to be a lot; because as I’ve already covered, she really loves to sleep.
She is a handful. She is opinionated. Especially when it comes to eating in her high chair, which she doesn’t favor. She is persistent — whether it’s objects she’s trying to grasp, or my leg that she’s trying to crawl up. And she’s always trying to crawl up on me. Like she needs to be ON me at all times.
Which brings me to, “why does she need to be ON me at all times?” I know, this is the age for separation anxiety. Plus, I think she’s teething. But it is all. the. time. And hell hath no fury like a separation anxiety-riddled baby who has been set down. Talk about fussing and crying!
Am I not remembering the crying and the furious crawling after? Perhaps partial amnesia is to blame. I also know that while Monkey experienced separation anxiety, I do not think it was to this degree. Is Bean going through this because I didn’t hold her enough as a tiny infant?
I wonder, if because I pre-labeled Bean as “easy going,” do I give her less slack than I did her sister, who I labeled “spirited.” I wonder if I’m more easily frustrated by certain things she does because I’m expecting her to go with my flow, instead of expecting her to hold, and vociferously express, her opinion the way Monkey did from day one.
Am I mistaking her naturally growing and expanding brain and curiosity about the world as being “spirited?” I mean, maybe this is just the natural progression of things. Even laid back people have opinions.
Does she push the limits like Monkey did? I don’t know yet. I don’t even think Monkey really “pushed the limits” until she was over a year. Am I just not remembering what it was like at nine months?
Is she somewhere in the middle?
I don’t know exactly why I am so obsessed with figuring this out. Maybe it’s because Monkey’s personality was so evident from such an early age, and I’ve never experienced this type of evolution. Why am I in such a hurry to label my youngest daughter? My student council days taught me to “label jars, not people,” yet here I am. Trying to label!!
I think it’s because I just want her to be happy and to attend to her needs. And I feel like if I can figure her out, then I can better attend to her needs?
Or maybe it’s because I’m flummoxed by all the changes Bean is going through. And I hate being flummoxed. I’m reminded that the only constant in a baby’s life (or anyone’s) is change. And babies change so, so rapidly, which is very contrary to my way of life, which I prefer to be run clearly, precisely, and orderly. I also have an oppressing need to KNOW things, everything. Because, you know, when you KNOW things, you can control them, and let’s be honest. Ultimately I just want to control things. Gee, I think I just saved myself a bundle on therapy.
But I still don’t know the answer to the question of her personality!
Do you think your baby was “laid back?” What characteristics did they display that made you think that? Are they still like that now that they’re older? And what made you think your baby was “spirited?” Is your child still spirited? Did your baby’s personality evolve over time, or was it evident from the very beginning?
Save me from myself! 😉