It’s incredibly tough to manage a difficult chid. It can be frustrating, nerve-wracking, painfully embarrassing and ridiculously tiring all at once. But while some mums choose to manage a difficult child by completely avoiding any situation that could trigger the child, other mums choose to soldier on come hell or high water!
To that mum struggling to manage a difficult child yet refusing to allow him to miss out on anything, it’s time someone gave you a few words of affirmation.
To the mum doing her best to manage a difficult child in the most trying of situations, I see you. I feel you. And no, do not allow anyone to make you feel like you are a failure because you are not one.
I see you in the funfair, standing in line waiting for your child’s turn to play the shooting game. He starts out all smiles, tingling in excitement. But alas, not for long for impatience soon takes over and he wants to have his turn and he wants it immediately. He stamps his foot, he cries, he throws a tantrum and before you know it you’re right in the middle of a meltdown.
I see the sides of your ears turning red and I can almost feel them getting hot with how embarrassed you feel at that moment. You lower your gaze to avoid the icy judging looks from some and the forced ‘sympathetic’ smile from others.
You occasionally glance up to see how long it is to your turn. I see the almost palpable helplessness in your eyes as you try your best to soothe your hysterical toddler with promises of ice-cream lollies and the big prize that he might win.
As you look at the other ‘well-behaved’ kids from the corner of your eye, I can imagine that you are berating yourself for not being able to manage a difficult child.
Sometimes it’s so difficult to manage a difficult child that you just break down and cry.
I see you walking into the library and I sense your nervousness and anxiety. It’s almost as if you are waiting for something to unfold. I see you lovingly placing your child on your lap and reading to him stories about faraway lands from a different time.
After a few minutes, I see your face crumple as he starts talking loudly and attempting to run around. I see you desperately reminding him of how you taught him to behave in a library but to no avail.
The librarian is staring daggers at you, someone says sshhhh and someone else tells you off. You are profusely apologising to everyone around you. I see your eyes moist with tears while you balance your toddler on the side of your hip and still proceed to borrow that stack of books that you intended to.
I see you walking out of the library looking completely defeated at your inability (or so you think) to manage a difficult child.
You walk into a posh restaurant to enjoy a nice meal with your child but it turns out to be a disaster waiting to happen. The peaceful ambience of the restaurant is threatened, spaghetti is in your hair and the napkin lands on the floor, soiled. You don’t even dare to face the waiter.
You are tired of people asking you, or subtly trying to probe if there’s something wrong with your child. You are tired of that face they give you that appears sympathetic but is nothing but a shroud for how annoyed they are by the presence of your child.
You never quite know what to expect when you can’t manage a difficult child.
You are tired of hesitating to go on play dates or to bring your child over to someone’s dinner party in fear of causing them inconvenience, or worse, in fear of them saying something that might eternally sour your relationship.
You are tired of explaining to everyone that he’s just like that, or that he’s actually a really sweet boy but he just acts up.
You’ve thrown in the towel and admitted defeat. You are almost desensitised to what people actually think of you as a parent and how you manage a difficult child. You are numb to people telling you that maybe you should be more firm, maybe you should do this and maybe you shouldn’t do that.
Because what would they know of the nights that you sat up reading book after book trying to learn how to manage a difficult child? What clue would they have of all the assessments you have put your child through trying to find out what’s going on only to find out that there really is nothing wrong with your child?
And what would they know of the myriad of strategies that you have tried and failed at and of the many nights that you spent crying in the bathroom at two in the morning wondering why it has to be so hard?
But you know what you’re not hearing enough of?
You have the courage of a soldier and the patience of a saint. You are optimistic and hopeful and you never ever give up on your child in spite of what he puts you through. And that makes your heart bigger than so many of ours!
You could have taken the easy way out and kept him at home, in front of the television where he would create no ruckus. But you chose to go to that funfair and you chose to queue for that game because you knew that it would make him happy and that’s all that mattered.
It makes you an amazing mother if you choose your child’s happiness over everything else.
You chose your child’s happiness over your face value and that makes you amazing.
You chose to go to the library knowing what a risk it is. And you were considerate enough to move out when it became mayhem. But you tried anyway and that makes you amazing.
You are sensitive enough not to cause others inconvenience and you politely refuse invitations but you do your very best to ensure that your child doesn’t miss out on all the experiences that life has to offer just because it’s tough to manage a difficult child.
That makes you resilient and admirable.
Because the truth of the matter is that yes, some children are the way they are a result of bad parenting. But in other cases, some children are just more difficult than others and even parenting gurus don’t have the slightest inkling on how to handle them.
Some children just have more needs than others and parenting them is like walking into a minefield. That’s just the way it is.
But the most important thing is that you never give up and you never lose your patience in spite of how difficult it is to manage a difficult child. No matter how disastrous a day turned out to be, you wake up the next day, fully determined to walk into that battlefield and fight for your child.
Because courage doesn’t always roar Mama. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says,
I’ll try again tomorrow.
And I salute you for trying harder every tomorrow to manage a difficult child.