My wife and I have had our suspicions for three years now. The loud yelling, enthusiastic dancing, operatic outbursts, it all pointed to one conclusion: we have a spirited child. We are both introverted, cautious in social situations, preferring quiet time alone, but Toddler Harbat…well, see for yourself:
The past week has been a special challenge, learning how to deal with this incredible energy. It’s like having a neutron star in your house—it threatens to consume everything with light and fire and is highly volatile. On at least three occasions in the last week I’ve reached pinnacles of furious anger and bathed in seas of tranquil love all within a five-minute span. The spirited child is nothing if not exhilarating! Since I’m not one of those parents who can watch antics and tantrums with half-lidded eyes and drawl, “Hey, kids’ll be kids,” I needed to find out what it means to have a spirited child. Which meant reading the book my wife got from the library, Raising Your Spirited Child.
Let’s start with the lowdown: spirited means more. More noise, more emotion, more work, more reward. I added those last two but I think they apply. The first great thing I’ve learned is about labeling. Over the last three years I’ve thought my daughter could be loud, nosy, brash, impatient. If you apply some critical thinking you can see those character traits in a new light: full of life, emotionally honest, driven, and perceptive. Just the first few chapters helped me realize what an incredible person she is through her most challenging characteristics.
Being thrust into this job as parent has been a real eye-opener. Honestly, it’s as if I’d never seen a bobsled in person and now I’m rocketing down an Olympic run at a hundred miles an hour. Having a spirited child means on-the-job training takes all your concentration and the penalties for mistakes are not insignificant. To push the metaphor to its limit, if I don’t let Toddler Harbat put on her socks herself I’ll be ass over teakettle under a three-hundred pound bobsled while my helmet melts a groove in the ice as I ricochet towards the end of the track. I’d never go bobsledding without training so why did I sign up for parenting without a clue what to do?
In keeping with the spirit of Handmade Blog, I’ll approach parenting as the ultimate in handmade: nobody can do it for you and it’s all cottage industry. Over the next few weeks as I work through this book I’ll bounce it off my reality and present you with the conclusions. If you have a spirited child, maybe you’ll nod your head in agreement. If you have a quiet child who cleans up after herself, says “please” and “thank you”, and always wipes and flushes, you can bray with derisive laughter all you want but remember that this kind of parenting is the pros and you’re still on the farm team. You have it easy, you lucky bastard.