Z got a hair cut yesterday, which gives me an excuse to post a pic of his sweet face and brag on him. He is the most responsible 9 year old I have ever met. He makes eggs, he can make coffee in the french press (and grind the beans), he gives me the daily weather report and keeps track of the time for me. He lays out his clothes the night before and is up before I am everyday. His motto is “If you aren’t early you’re late” HA! He definitely doesn’t get that from me or Jeremy. I believe God gave him this trait to go along with the big world-changing projects he will oversee in the future. Go get ’em buddy!

I shared this on Facebook today and I wanted to expound on it here on the blog.

Although Z’s teacher called him the model student in our last conference it hasn’t always been that way. Oh, and side note every child person has strengths and weaknesses. We are all imperfect and that certainly includes my oldest son, but I choose not to embarrass him or air out his 9 year old dirty laundry on the internet. We are focusing on the good here. You can keep that in mind incase you are tempted to think that other people have perfect children. Anyway, back to my point.

Z was the precious treasure that made me a mom. He was a perfect angel and no one could convince me otherwise. I remember seeing a little boy tell his mother no in a defiant toddler tone and I gasped. I remember thinking I don’t know what I would do if my little baby every talked to me that way. Fast forward a couple years and I got to see all that the toddler and preschool years had to offer. I was exhausted and really at a loss for how to handle him.

I remember one day at a church event he was being his typical strong willed self, running away from me and not listening. Then a man from church scooped him up, sat him down in a chair and barked “Now, you stay here and you listen to your mother!” (which I didn’t appreciate, but that’s another story). He would act out and get in trouble for biting in the nursery and the comments would be “it’s always the pastor’s son”. Then there was one of the times he was screaming at the top of this lungs in the grocery store and I overheard an elderly woman grumble a hurtful comment. Her voice still haunts me. Not to mention when he escaped at 2 years old and I had to call 911!

Z had big emotions, big ideas, and lots of energy. He was really smart, which made me even more frustrated that he would pee his pants right after I sat him on the toilet and made him try to go potty. He would bang his head against the hardwood floor when he was throwing a temper tantrum. I searched Google for the signs of behavioral disorders, because I was genuinely concerned. I would get so upset and ask God for strength. One time I questioned God, telling him that maybe there was a mistake and I wasn’t cut out for this job. This child was more than I could handle.

Now on the other side of things I can see that Z was a strong willed toddler, but he was also just a toddler. The second, third, and fourth time around I have let similar behavior roll off my back. In fact sometimes I get annoyed at that label- Strong Willed. Every single one of my 4 children have been identified at some point as strong willed. Even the baby. It was one of her first newborn checkups and she was crying so hard she would hold her breath. Oh, a breath holder. Yeah, that means she’s strong willed. The Doctor said. Just like that my 4th child was diagnosed with strong willedisitus at the age of 2 weeks.

My theory is that MOST young children are strong willed to varying degrees. They are learning to test boundaries and that is the healthiest thing they can do at that age so that they know where boundaries are. So if you have a strong willed child, good for you. What you probably have is a regular kid. If you have a passive compliant child you are in the minority. They are a rare breed that I am sure comes with many gifts, but also challenges of it’s own, except I wouldn’t know.

I say all this as an encouragement for mothers of littles struggling through those preschool years. I love hearing encouraging stories from other moms that have been there done that, like this one from Kristen Welch. Or the mom whose son was a holy terror, but grew up to be the CEO of his own company and spends his spare time building wells in Africa. That one I made up, but just to hear of children like mine that turned out okay is comforting enough.

Every child has their own free will and everyone’s story is different, but we hold onto the promise that you train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. I am only half way to the 18 year mark with my son and I am certain we have ups and downs ahead of us. So I am not saying I’ve arrived or that I am success story, but I am saying that I am so proud of the young man my strong willed boy is becoming. He no longer pees in his pants and eventually your son or daughter won’t either.