Friday, May 25, 2012

My Strong-Willed Child

Last night was my daughter's graduation from pre-school.  If you know my daughter, Keira, you know that she does what she wants and nothing more.  I was nervous going into the ceremony that she either was not going to do what she was supposed to do because she simply didn't feel like it, or she would do something crazy that drew extra attention to her, and not in a good way. 

When it was her time to proceed up the aisle, she walked swiftly, eyes straight ahead, stone face.  We tried to get her attention to smile, but had no luck.  Okay, I thought, that's fine.  I had done the same thing when I made my First Communion.  The pressure of everyone looking at me made me nervous, and maybe she felt the same way.  Eventually it was time for her class to perform on stage. They had three songs.  The first one was very entertaining to watch.  Each child had two paint mixing sticks and tapped them together or on their bodies somewhere following along with the words of the song.  It was fun to see how much fun the kids had with this one.  The second song was a sing along.  Keira had me laughing so hard I was crying!  She was being such a goof ball up there.  I kept looking at her and smiling, and every time she saw me she would do this really dramatic laugh and then throw her hands in her face like she was embarrassed for me to watch her.  Then she would turn and make a funny gesture at one of the boys standing next to her.  Some of the other parents around me, knowing Keira's little personality, looked over at me laughing along with me.  I could now see what was meant when another mom told me that her son thinks Keira is so funny!  So far so good, I thought.  The third and final song was a little different.  For some reason, Keira didn't feel like singing along with this one and I knew there was nothing that was going to change her mind.  Instead, she stood up there doing more silly things, but this time they didn't make me laugh.  She pretended to pick her nose, kept trying to pull the neckline of her dress over her face as if trying to hide, and even lifted up the skirt of her dress a few times (eek!) revealing the bloomers we had put on over her underwear.  At this point I was a little frustrated at her lack of composure.  The song finally ended and the graduating class recessed down the aisle.  This time, she was all smiles and waves.  Thank goodness it ended before she pulled her entire dress over her head!

A few months ago as Randall and I watched Keira in gymnastics class doing her own versions of the exercises rather than what the coach told her, Randall said, "I am the worst Marine dad ever.  My daughter has no self-discipline!"  Anyone in the military knows how strongly poise and self-control are emphasized in service-members, and I think it is sometimes assumed that military children will have the same composure.  And as parents in the military, we want to think that we can control our kids in the same way that the military controls us.  But the truth is, every child is different.  Some kids respond readily to discipline, whereas others, military brat or not, will have their own schedule and intentions and no one else is going to tell them what to do.  Despite the frustrations and I-want-to-rip-my-hair-out tempers, these strong-willed kids need to be encouraged to maintain their personalities.  They have a determination that is not found in the more mild-mannered child.  They have a way of manipulating situations to go their way.  This strong will, I am willing to bet, is the foundation for absolute success as an adult.

Keira makes me want to bang my head against a wall on most days.  I don't know how to deal with her because I cannot relate to her.  I was not a strong-willed child, at least not in the same way she is.  But I am so proud of her and who she is becoming.  She has so much determination which she is one day going to use to progress in the big world rather than figure out new ways to irritate her brother.  Parents with strong-willed children, I urge you to embrace them and encourage them.  This is difficult, and I myself need to work on it.  But there is no denying that they are going to be something big in the world someday, and we as parents must not stand in their way!    


  1. My daughter is the same way. I just have to keep reminding myself that she is young and just trying to test the waters. She will find her way and the time will come when all the teaching and discipline will show through.
    In the mean time, I just have to remind myself I am not the worst parent ever and that a lot of people have strong willed children! :)

  2. I love that little minx! :) I also really like the new layout and design--it's so cheerful!

  3. Sweet and Sassy.....she reminds me soooo much of my niece Ally (my 4th child and also petite with lots of bouncy blonde hair too)..who was definitely one of a kind....she made us laugh till we cried....she could be so bad and challenging but we would all have to hide our faces so she didn't see us laughing. She is now a sweet, energetic, social, outgoing, entertaining, funny, beautiful little almost 12 year old, with just a little sass thrown in for good measure. I've loved Keira from day one :)

    Miss Diane