Before today's question (which was actually last Friday's question, but the new Typepad interface doesn't let me post from my BlackBerry. FAIL.) I'd like to announce that I've created a new holiday: Candletime. It runs from November 1 through the day before American Thanksgiving (so November 25 this year), and the celebration is that you dim the lights and light a bunch of candles every evening when you get home, and enjoy a cup or tea or coffee or cider or glass of wine. The official greeting is either "Happy Candletime!" or "Light up! It's Candletime!"
Happy Second Day of Candletime!
Now, to the question. A long-time reader with a 5-year-old writes:
"OMFG we're idiots.
all this time and guess what? [Kid's name] totally fits the profile of a spirited child.
Well, I can't really say I'm that surprised. Knowing this child and having heard the stories, she just always seemed somehow "more" than other kids in intensity and emotion.
But I also don't think this is entirely new information for the poster, either. Five years with a person and you start to figure them out. The way I've witnessed the poster's parenting process, it's looked to me like a slow but sure journey of figuring her daughter out.
So it seems like figuring out the label does two things:
1) It makes you pissed off that you never knew before. How much easier would it have been to have been able to look at someone else's roadmap instead of driving blind?? And to not think it had something to do with your parenting or the dynamic between you?
2) It makes you relieved. It's not just her. It's not just you. It's not just the combo of you. You're not crazy, and you're not raising a psychopath (eeeeeveryone with a child older than 6 months knows what I mean here, spirited child or not). You're not a bad parent. And you can use someone else's roadmap from here on out to prep yourself.
So all in all, having figured this out is great news. Go get a cup of coffee, or take a bubble bath. Or have a cup of coffee in the bubble bath.
The other thing about this, though, is that you may now have a framework for dealing with schools and other adults who don't understand your daughter. If you can find resources that describe the "typical" spirited child, that may make sense to them and help you all help your daughter to grow and learn and all that other stuff, instead of making people feel bad about expectations and "normal" and everything else.
(I'm not going to go into the "I can't believe we missed it this whole time" thing. You know what? Parents miss stuff. Sometimes we're just so busy parenting the kid we have that we don't see them as a category. While sometimes it's helpful to see the categories, most of the time it's exactly right to parent the person right in front of you.)
Anyone have recommendations for the poster for books or websites for parenting a spirited child? Especially ones that are written in language that would make them useful for bringing into discussions with teachers and school administrators? Any other tales from the trenches about spirited kids or anyone else who deviates from the median?