Monday, December 1, 2008

Kids aren't cookie cutters

About a week ago, this post started out with me ranting and raving about what a "Terrible Two" Amelia has become and how her sister was comparatively a saint at this age. But after a long prayer and a good night's rest, I realized I was being crusty and unreasonable and that I could do a lot to improve how Amelia and I were getting along.

One major change I made was limiting Amelia's movie time to one movie a day instead of letting her brain rot for hours at a time. She's a very busy and inquisitive child and all that passive time in front of the DVD player makes her irritable. So I've been trying to do more reading with her, letting her help me with chores, and bringing out more toys for her to play with.

Another thing that has helped, especially when it's bedtime, is the elimination of Amelia's nap. This was done with MUCH reluctance on my part because I usually took a nap at the same time. But we'd been spending about 45 minutes a night putting up with her getting out of bed, throwing fits because she didn't want to go to sleep, demanding to sleep in Mommy and Daddy's bed, etc. I'll tell you what, by the end of the night I was about ready to send her outside to sleep in the wood pile! Lily has always been a champion sleeper so it's been a challenge for me. In talking about managing the stress of motherhood, someone recently told me, "No one is a good mother after 8:00 at night." That is so true for me. My patience and energy are completely shot by then, so I turn into a total crankpot at night. I've been trying to make getting the girls bathed and teeth brushed by 8:00 a priority.

While Amelia is strong-willed and obstinate at times, she has a built-in defense mechanism to keep her parents from beating her: she's just so dang cute!

It's hard to stay mad at that face!

Amelia has some of the most endearing quirks. When she wants something she says "Meees" (please) while hunching her shoulders up and tilting her head to the side. Despite the four year age difference between Amelia and Lily, Amelia just adores her sister. Several times during the day while Lily is at school, Amelia will say," I miss Bee" (Biggie). She always gives her a big hug when she comes home from school. When Dan is gone to Salt Lake, she says, "I miss Daddy" and we call him on the phone and she giggles and smiles. Another thing I love to hear Amelia say is "yes". She says it in two distinctive ways. If she's perky and enthusiastic, like when she does something by herself and I ask, "Did you do it?" she'll speak very clearly, with good alliteration on each letter, and her little eyes light up. When she's sad or she's talking about her animals or a baby or something small, she says it in a small, pitiful voice with her lips poking out and her brow furrowed.

I've been so absorbed with Amelia's challenging behavior lately that I've really short-changed Lily with all my crabbiness. That kid is just sweet to the core and she gets nothing but nagging from her mother. Being the oldest child sucks because you're expected to be ultra-obedient and set the perfect example or else your parents freak out. OK, not all parents, but that's how I've been.

But Lily is one of the sweetest kids you'll ever meet. She has such a tender heart and loves to express affection. Every morning when she leaves for the bus (she started this when we lived in American Fork and she'd leave to go play with her friends) she waves and says, "Bye Mama, I love you". She's always giving me hugs and kisses, talking to Mystery Boy, and making all kinds of love notes for me and her Dad. Dan went to Parent-Teacher Conference a couple weeks ago and Lily's teacher said she was one of the kindest kids in class, got along with everyone and was always leaving notes to cheer up her friends.

Lily has always been eager to please and is super easy-going. Sometimes we've worried about her lack of attention span or willingness to really concentrate on something and/or be competitive. Whenever she's been in sports, she's more interested in just having fun with her friends than trying to master a skill. But I'll gladly trade athletic prowess for a girl with a kind heart.

It's been interesting watching our girls grow and realizing that kids really come with built-in personalities. We used to be all proud of our great parenting skills because Lily was such a mild-mannered obedient child. Turns out that's just her personality.

I wonder what Mystery Boy will be like...


Lois Ann said...

Two of the joyful moments of this last weekend were waking up next to a grandchild - one morning it was Amelia and one morning it was Connor. That they would think it would be fun to have a sleepover in Grammie's bed - pretty cool!

Spymommy said...

You have the most beautiful daughters Sue. Thanks for the reminder that we have to parent each one differently because each child is indeed unique.

Becky in Wyo said...

Mystery Boy will come out all rarin' to go and play with his sisters. My observations with younger siblings, especially as you start working your way into number three, four, and beyond, is that the older ones love them to death, and the joy just increases, because you start to get just the tiniest, but glorious, peek at the joy our Heavenly Father has from multiple children. How boring would it be, how much joy could you really have, if you just experiences only one or two personalities? Just when you think you have the whole parenting thing worked out, here comes this kid who you have to develop new techniques with, but with whom you share wonderful, heart-expanding experiences, and you get to see how JOY MULTIPLIES. It's the truth about eternal families: you give up much of what you want as a single self, but you get neverending, ever-expanding joy in return.

Becky in Wyo said...

P.S. I love Amelia's evil-eye crusty-face first thing in the morning. It totally made me giggle when we were at Mom's house a week ago.