Raising a Spirited Child is HARD

19 Jun

This week, Jackson’s broken an outdoor table, his bed, two pairs of goggles, the slide on his playground, his new slip-n-slide, some of Abby’s toys and other little miscellaneous items. He doesn’t do it “on purpose”; he just gets going and things somehow get broken along the way.

  • Outdoor table – trying to get something up high
  • Bed – got excited and hung on it
  • Goggles – trying to get the straps “perfect”
  • Slide – cutting grass and playing chase with the dog
  • Slip-n-slide – the thing just doesn’t work right, despite all kinds of “troubleshooting”
  • Abby’s toys – he’s a big brother, these things happen (often)

When I try to explain why we’ve had a bad day together or I why I’m so frustrated with him…I just…can’t. How do you explain how one kid can push you to your limits by trying to be helpful or learn for himself? I can’t explain what it’s like to parent a spirited child, you just know it if you’ve got it.

He’s so passionate about life.

So curious.

So constant.

Basically: he’s a 75 lb. bull and the world is his china shop.

This morning he’s had swim practice, made himself breakfast, played with Play Doh, watched cartoons, constructed with his Legos, ran around outside…and it’s only 11:15.

During Lego time, he was sitting beside me at the kitchen table, wiggling back and forth on the chair, immersed in putting together a new tank while I’m working. We’re talking completely immersed.

And then I hear a crack. Here we go again.

“Jackson! You have to stop rocking the chair. You’ve already broken most of them,” I tell him.

“Nuh-uh. That’s not true. I’ve only broken…like…two!” he tells me.

“And this is the third…and there’s only four…”


I’m serious, he doesn’t get it. He’s apologetic. He’s just all heart and drive. All. The. Time.

Everyone tells me to encourage the positive and discourage the negative. I’m working on it. At 7, I know we’ve made headway already. He’s got a fantastic work ethic and a kind, kind heart. This drive is something you’re born with. I am positive the fire inside him is what got him through his cancer treatment. You can’t teach it, especially at 13 months old. It’s either there or it’s not. It thank God for that tenacity.

But sometimes the positive and negative overlap at the same time. Like when he’s using his imagination to build something fantastic while simultaneously breaking my kitchen chairs.

You can’t give them a cancer pass for the rest of their life. The fire has to at least try to be contained.

Like right now, I tasked him with cleaning the den which he and Abby have destroyed since the cleaning lady came Tuesday. He’s actually super pumped about it. (WORK ETHIC) He started fluffing pillows and throwing away trash, but now he wants the upholstery cleaner to clean the sofa. We need to get the stains out, Mom.

His mind works like no other kid I know. And then he moves onto teaching Abby how to put her books on her shelves. (HIS HEART) He tells me he wants to clean my room next. And then he also wants to rearrange the deck furniture and trim the bushes outside.

Guys, I just want to finish typing an email and my mind is short-circuiting.

He’s not ADD, if that’s what you’re thinking, even though it sounds like it when I write. He is brilliantly focused and continually sees more problems he’s sure he can solve with his own theories. When we named him Jackson Everett, we joked that it sounded presidential. But with his bravery, intellect, ambition and SHEER WILL, I think we may have involuntary set the wheels in motion back on December 28, 2007.

They say spirited children grow into adults that do amazing things. Jackson is going to do amazing things, this I know for sure. But God help me to live through his spirited childhood so I can see it.

I’ve already made him promise he’ll pick a good nursing home for us. He didn’t laugh, he takes his future responsibility seriously. Until then, he’s making sure I drink enough water for me and his little brother growing in my belly. And spilling ice all over the floor getting it for me. Don’t worry, Mom, the dogs will eat it!

I’m calling it now: Bensten for President in 2060.

"Woolwine Family Summer 2014"

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