My child is wild. He is not just wild when he plays or is in a silly mood; he’s always wild. My neighbors know to slow down as they drive past our house just in case a four-year-old comes barreling out into the road. We have an understanding with the pediatrician’s office that we’ll stay in the car, and they can call me when it’s time for us to go in for our appointment instead of braving the waiting room. Members of our congregation give me sympathetic smiles as I wrestle my son at church, trying in vain to keep him quiet. We’re unofficially banned from the library. I avoid certain stores like the plague. My child might be wild, but that doesn’t mean I’m not trying. Believe me, I am.
My Child Might Be Wild, But I’m Doing My Best
I used to think it was normal for all kids to act that way. It is to a certain extent, but I realized he seemed more amped up than other kids. Then I had my daughter. At two years old, when her big brother was already very wild, she is much calmer. They get each other riled up sometimes, but my son continues to run circles around her. It’s a shocking but much-needed contrast. I’ve realized that some kids have more energy. It’s not about a lack of discipline, just a lot of energy packed inside a little body.
You don’t see everything I’m doing and how hard I’m trying.
I try to find the space between letting him be himself and teaching him respect and socially acceptable behaviors. I don’t want to tame him. I want to teach him when it’s okay to be wild. The judgemental stares and the “you sure got your hands full” comments melt together in my brain as I drag him out to the car with his little sister in tow, all of us on the verge of a meltdown.
It’s hard not to feel infuriated about the strangers who feel the need to scold my child in public, making their point that I’m not doing enough. They don’t see me trying to find calming techniques for him. They haven’t heard me say, “you need to listen to me,” for the millionth time as we drive to our destination. I’ve tried backpacks with harnesses, deep breathing techniques, and all the gentle parenting strategies the internet offers. They also haven’t seen me lose my temper and raise my voice only to feel horrible about it later. And they don’t know how exhausting it is or how often I feel like a failure.
Things I’ve Learned From My Mistakes and Little Victories on This Journey
If you’re also a mother to a wild child, I see you. I know it can be challenging, and I know you’re doing your best.
It doesn’t matter what strangers think.
Why is it easier to care more about the opinions of random people at the grocery store than how my child feels? I will probably never see them again, but my child is mine forever. He deserves to feel safe, loved, happy, and respected.
There are no set rules for parenting. We just need to do what’s best for our children and us.
I don’t need to let myself get worked up by the implied (or sometimes explicitly stated) judgments of others. I shouldn’t feel the need to prove that I’m a good mom by putting on a show of how firm I am. Just because I hear other moms in public hollering at their kids or spanking them in public doesn’t mean I need to if that’s not my parenting style.
It’s okay to let go of the status quo and society’s unrealistic expectations for mothers and children.
It is empowering and liberating to realize that you can truly be in charge of your parenting instead of having it dictated by what others think. The only person who can determine whether I’m doing my best at motherhood is myself. I know my parenting more than anyone else. And I know my intentions, my worries, my capabilities, my instincts, and my breaking points.
I know my child, but not as well as he knows himself, so I have to listen and trust him.
He may be a rough and tumble little boy, but his heart is delicate like glass. He needs me in his corner to protect him from the labels and assumptions the world hurls at him and let him live his own little life.
So yes, my child is wild, and I hope the world will leave him that way. He might charge through our house like a tornado, but he also gives the sweetest kisses. He loves to hear himself scream and roar like a dinosaur, but he’s good at saying “thank you” and “I love you.” He’s loud and a little aggressive but wants to be friends with everyone. Like all children, he’s learning to be kind and respectful, and I do my best to live by example.
I don’t want the world to force him into boxes or beat him to obedience. I don’t want him to blend into the crowds; I want him to be proud of who he is, just like I am. Your child’s wild behavior is not a reflection of your parenting. Keep going forward confidently, knowing you are doing your best with your wild little ones.