I Don’t Have Unicorn Children
They sit quietly. Their crayons, perfectly intact, are warm from an hour long grip. The rings on their clean seat cushions are a reminder of their stationary position. Who are these delightful kids? The unicorn children, as I call them.
You’ve heard of them- the toddlers, typically girls, who sit for hours with calm and tranquil independence, coloring or doing some other kind of activity. They’re rare… but they’re out there. Why do I refer to them as unicorns? Because they are mythical creatures… extremely hard to come by. Perhaps you’re thinking, “Danielle, you live in your own fantasy land because these kids are very common.” Maybe I’m wrong. It’s possible their parents don’t go around advertising their good luck to have been blessed with such a child, which would explain why I don’t meet them often. Well, whatever the reason, I’m always mesmerized when I meet a child with this type of disposition and temperament. And last week I met one, which is what inspired me to write this post.
My Struggles With My Child’s Temperament
After meeting this precious child, I felt like embracing her mother and congratulating her. But then I felt concern that my loud and lively child would frighten hers. These thoughts led me to remember the days I struggled with the fact that I have a rambunctious child (now I have two). The reason I struggled was because I once was a unicorn child (or so my mom told me). I was the subdued girl who played quietly for hours. Sure I had my strong temper, but I was easy to manage otherwise. This difference in temperament between Flash and me created feelings of anger and embarrassment. I often thought, “What’s wrong with him?” and “What’s wrong with me for not being able to manage his impulsiveness and activity level??” Plainly stated- it was difficult for me to accept and understand this behavior.
What I Learned About My Child
As Flash matured and became a bit more subdued, I realized a few things. First, the one with the issue was me, not him. The concern I had with his behavior stemmed from my insecurity about being judged as an inadequate mother. Second, I realized his desire to “climb the walls” is “normal,” and high energy and impulsive behavior (to an extent) are OK. Logically I knew this. I thought other active kids were perfectly normal and fun. It was having one of my own that turned on a switch within me. And third, and most importantly, I learned that between the times he spent licking the windows and doing “butt bombs” off the couch, I saw a passionate, curious child with a level of determination I desire. How lucky, I thought. These three characteristics will be driving forces behind his desire to learn and attain success.
What I Do Differently Now
I would be lying if I said there weren’t times I wish my kids would draw for just one hour. But I know that’s not my reality for the time being. Thus, instead of getting angry, I decided to make Flash burn as much energy as possible. He wants to run? I’ll make him run. And voila, the dance parties were born! Every night, we danced. The parties then evolved into tag and races throughout the yard. After our play sessions, I see the love and appreciation in his eyes after our special time together. It not only lets him know I make time for him, but it also shows him that it’s OK to let that energy out (in a positive way).
So before questioning your child because of his or her activity level (or any other behavior for that matter), ask yourself if the criticism is really about them? Or is it about you? You may be surprised at what you discover about yourself and your equally delightful un-unicorn child.
“Beauty is hidden in everything; just learn how to observe.” -Ritu Ghatourey