Saturday, April 17, 2010

War of the Wills

When my 2nd baby girl was born she was a beauty. Still is I might add. She came into the world sucking her little thumb and was a sweet blessing during a difficult time. Her paternal grandmother was battling cancer and her arrival was a bright spot in an unusually snowy West Texas January.

By the age of two she was very independent and always trying to keep up with her big sister. She had extremely straight almost white hair and the darkest brown eyes you've ever seen, was potty trained at 17 months and at 2 and a half years we were all ready for the arrival of baby number 3. Well, I thought we were ready.

Whoever came up with term "middle child syndrome" must have been peering through our windows. My precious little, highly intelligent, super advanced 2 year old suddenly turned into what would be my greatest test of strength and courage for the next 3 years.

It all began so subtly. She loved to sit with me while I was feeding and rocking her baby sister. Somehow she would wedge her little feet between my tummy and the baby and then begin to straighten out her legs trying to shove baby sister out of my lap. Thankfully this behavior was short lived and mildly amusing.

Next came the loss of all ability to make it to the potty. Now after a good 7 to 8 months of going to the potty we suddenly couldn't make it. As if cleaning up pee wasn't getting her enough attention she must have figured out it took me twice as long to clean up the other, which sometimes required a bath. I don't remember how long that all continued as I seemed to have block it from my mind, but I know it was well over 6 months. I feel quiet certain that a desperate mother of a middle child was the one who came up with the idea for Pull Ups!

Once we passed the 2nd round of potty training then came the stuttering stage. This was not severe and only lasted about a year praise the Lord. The final stage and by far the most stressful for us all was the separation anxiety stage. I wish I could say that I handled it with grace but then that would just be a bold faced lie.
I think on several occasions I was certifiable.

My worst meltdown from this stage of course took place in front of people I had to see every day. After months and I do mean MONTHS of the teachers dragging my anxiety ridden child from the car every morning kicking and screaming I hit my all time low. I had already removed her from all activities except kindergarten at the urging of her pediatrician. Each morning we would pull in the line and I would try to be cheerful in hopes of keeping her spirits up. Her older sister was always a big encourager but I think she even started dashing for the building to save herself from embarrassment. This one particular morning an impatient dad began honking at me to move out the way. Not just one little beep mind you but several blasts. Rude behavior for a christian private school attendee parent if you ask me but what followed was probably rude beyond all measure. After getting out the car to help pry 10 little fingers from anything within grasp and tearfully watching my screaming child once again be drug into the building, my frustration hit the boiling point. Poor unsuspecting dad with the honk happy hand probably wished he could escape when he saw me marching back to his window. My words were few but I'm sure they reached far and wide in the chilly morning air, "Buddy, if you think you can do a better job then you go try to get her in the building and I'll sit back here and honk the horn!!!!". There was no response other than a look of complete shock and bewilderment. I would like to say that time has made me rueful of that moment but I think it was a real turning point for me. After months of being held captive by a 5 year old's will, I affirmed to myself that I was doing the best I could do and was courageously battling on.

By the time she hit 1st grade you will be glad to know that she became a well adjusted and outgoing child. She re-enrolled in dance, took piano, went back to children's choir and Sunday school and marched into school voluntarily each morning. She has grown into a beautiful young woman and now has a little strong willed two year old of her own. When she calls me with a new "terrible two" story I admit that I probably have a twinge of satisfaction as I laugh. Oh, what joys await her on the other side.