When I look back at my first child’s toddler years, I do not remember very much shouting. Addie was a short curly headed kid who loved to play with flowers and kittens. She also thought she was the reincarnate of Shirley Temple (who had not yet passed at the time). There were moments when she acted out and she had to be disciplined. Timeouts were the modus operandi for dealing with the occasional outburst. We maybe did that once per day at the most.
Vivi, our second child, is a different story.
Vivi can go from fine and pleasant to downright mean and angry in about 2.3 seconds. One second the kid can be singing her A, B, C’s as she calmly tinkers with a toy at the kitchen table and the next second she can be down on the floor shouting and demanding a bowl of grated cheese.
There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground with Vivi. She’s either perfectly content or completely out of control. And her voice has power. When Addie cried it bothered me because I don’t like to hear kids cry, but when Vivi cries it bothers me because it actually hurts my ears. The kid’s voice is so strong I wonder if I should enroll her in singing lessons beginning tomorrow.
The problem for me with her being a wild child is that punishing my kids has never been my thing. I hate to see them sad which makes it tough to be a firm disciplinarian. Plus, I’m an accomplished over reactor. My famous line is “Addie, you get your room cleaned right now or I’m going to throw away all of your toys.” Casey always hates when I make ludicrous idle threats like that, and I can’t say I blame her.
The bigger inner conflict for me is that Vivi gets in trouble enough that I’m torn sometimes as to whether I am being too harsh on her. I want to quash the bad behavior, but I don’t want to kill her spirit.
My wife and I have tried to figure out how Vivi’s temper can be so different than Addie’s. Though we know every child is different, we can’t help but wonder if the one big difference between their childhoods is to blame. Daycare. While Addie’s early years overlapped with me being in law school and Casey taking time away from her career, all that has changed. Now I’m out of law school and several years into my career, and Casey’s career has started to pick up. Since Vivi’s frequency at daycare has picked up, we’ve also noticed her bad habits and temper on the rise. Is this a coincidence, or maybe a projection of our feelings of guilt in turning our focus at least partially back to our careers? It’s an ongoing discussion and concern.
Or, maybe Vivi is just Vivi.
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