Monday, April 29, 2013

If it's not Baroque...

If it's not Baroque......don't fix it!
      --Cogsworth, Beauty and the Beast
I read There Is Not Always a Fix For the Difficult Child on today.

My daughter Cookie is one of those kids the article refers to.  A baby who was "fussy," "high needs," "colicky" who grew into a "spirited" and "strong-willed" and "difficult" toddler and preschooler.  She is energetic and impulsive and imaginative and persistent.  She's simply "more."

The post says:
You know what I think though? I don't think there is anything WRONG with this girl. I don't think she can or needs to be "fixed" with an adjustment or a diet change or magical technique. I think she is just kind of....hard.
And, I am not afraid to admit it.
I could make up excuses for my child. I could blame it on something that is beyond our control. Or I could try to control the situation in every way possible. I think that I could successfully drive myself batty doing so.I could also just admit the simple yet difficult truth of the matter: some babies, children and human beings are harder. Or more intense. Or more sensitive. Or if you are lucky, they are all three.

But it seems to me that sometimes nobody wants to do this. We would much rather find an excuse, a reason, an explanation. I think it takes some of the blame off of the kid, and it makes us feel like we have a little more control over our lives than we actually do. If we can just figure out the cause, then we could fix them!!!!

I love this girl.  She is delightful and a handful all at once.
I've been looking and looking for that excuse, reason and explanation why Cookie is the way she is. Why isn't she as compliant or quiet or still as some other girls her age (or how I imagine other girls her age are based on the limited time I see them in public).  Why does she still wake up at night and come to our bed?  Why does she get leg aches and stomach aches and canker sores?

This is very hard to talk about and admit.  But, here goes.  The terrible truth is that as much as I love her, there are still times, times when she's not behaving as I expect or protesting loudly against some limit I've set, that I don't like my daughter.  There are times that I'm even ashamed of her and wish she would be more "normal."

I've not said it in so many words aloud but she's very perceptive.  I'm sure I've communicated it to her nonetheless through my body language and attitudes.  That is horrible.  It should not be.  When he gets particularly frustrated with her, my husband has said "There's something wrong with her" and I've often wondered if he is right.

As a result, instead of accepting her for who she is, I've been trying to "fix" her, primarily with diet changes.

On the way I've learned a few things.  She does seem calmer without dairy in her system.  She does seem to tolerate frustration and control her impulses better when she hasn't consumed gluten or food dye.  Or rather, when we slip up, I notice that she is even MORE impulsive and easily frustrated than what is normal for her.

And yet, she is still "spirited" "strong willed" and "difficult." She still moves more than many other kids her age.  She still has a big imagination and big feelings and big ideas and a driving need to test every boundary.  I realize that much of that is just her personality and much of that is just her age and immaturity.  After all, she has only been alive on this planet for four years and seven months, and maybe I expect too much from her.

We recently discovered that she has pinworms and are treating that, but it hasn't made the dramatic difference in behavior or sleep or nighttime dryness that I've heard it made for others.

She may need more sleep.  She may need more structure.  She may need ... what?  What is the magic cure? Is there one?  Does she even need a cure?  Why do I continue to think that there is there anything "wrong" with my daughter?

What would it be like to decide that there isn't anything wrong and to choose to stop looking for ways to "fix" her?  To just admit that she is harder to parent than some kids and step up my game?

Which brings me to the terrible anxiety the second half of the article brought up.  Maybe it's something wrong with my parenting that is making her this way ...


  1. Totally resonates with me. All of it. Except I haven't experimented with any dietary changes.

    I think part of what makes it so hard is that I am the exact same way -- willful, sensitive, intense -- and so a) I know what it's like when other people find you difficult, and ought to be more compassionate about it, but b) it's still very provoking / triggering and I could stand to have more compassion for myself as well.

  2. Obviously, I may be a little off on my comments as I'm parenting a child who is on the spectrum not just intense or quirky.

    There are no qualms about it by I love my kid. Parenting Lauren will be the most defining moment of my life. While I love all of my children with passion and without exception, Lauren gave my life a purpose and a plan unlike anything else. And yet, I feel guilty just typing that out.

    I have spent many, many a years trying to fix her, fix me, fix the situation. At the moment, I'm at peace with the situation. This situation, is not the ideal, but it is what it is. It is simply the hand in life I was dealt. When she was little, I felt that someone had changed the rules on my life but you either play by the new rules or you don't play at all.

    I have no qualms about admitting that I do require Lauren to change. I require her to stop doing certain things and to start doing certain others. I drag her out to ever social situation I can which are extremely uncomfortable for her and then for me. But I do it anyway.

    Doesn't sound gentle does it? It is because I want her to fail in a supportive, loving enviornment. I don't shame her or anything because ultimately, this is who she is and neither I nor science can change her.

    But eventaullay, society will except and demand that she conforms to social rules. As much as I want to belive that society will adapt for her, I am a realist. Society is not going to change, the needs of the many will always outway the needs of the few. Lauren is going to have to change and find way to accomadate this world that was simply not designed for her. I, as her mother and biggest advocate, will have to find way to help her adapt all the while helping Lauren continue to be Lauren.

    I am keenly aware that I am not always going to be the mother of a child with Autism, one day I will be the mother of an adult with Autism.

    You are doing a great job and you will continue to do a great job. You are passionate and compassionate and while her journey may be more difficult for her. Because the journey for intense people always is, she has someone who is will to journey with her.

    Contact me on Facebook if you want to call me. I miss talking to you

  3. I really doubt that it is your parenting. I'm sure that if you parented differently, it would be worse. Well, it might seem better. Maybe if you parented differently, you might have it easier now, but at what cost? I can't tell you how many of my peers consider it totally normal for a young adult to all but ignore their parents. They say that is just how young adults are. I consider it the fruits of their parenting.


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