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Seeing the character through the kid

Do you have a kid that has meltdowns? You KNOW what I mean by meltdowns. Maybe it happens when they are tired, or hungry or in a particularly foul mood. Maybe it’s because socks have lumps in them, pants are too short, or the cereal doesn’t come up to a certain line in their cereal bowl. Maybe it’s because they say the sky is green, and their older brother insists that it’s blue.

Or maybe it happens just because it’s Tuesday.

Whatever the reason, I think sometimes it’s difficult not to let these meltdowns, these tantrums, if you will, be the defining characteristics of our children.

I thought much about this very subject this past weekend. My daughter, six years old, is a fiery, feisty little thing who likes very much to get her own way. She tends to whine, as girls are often prone to do, and is known to up the dramatic factor if she thinks it will help sway situations in her favor.

But last week, she got sick. It was just a stomach bug, but it drained her of all energy and wiped clean her air of general feistiness. We were traveling during her sickness so the poor little thing had to endure quite a bit. And she did it with grace and a resolute strength that awed and inspired me. She was so tough, so complacent, so willing to endure.

The thing about kids is that they still have so much to learn about life. They are still learning how to cope when things don’t go their way, how to deal when life really is unfair. They lack the language and ability to express themselves that only comes with age and experience. Their worlds are small, their perspective limited. But these limitations aren’t character flaws. It’s just the way it is with kids.

It’s when we shake off the layers of life lessons yet to be learned, of difficult hormones, of change, growth and adaptation still lying around the corner that we are able to see the true potential of a child; to see the magnitude of character that lies within them.

Those glimpses are gifts to parents… a daughter calm and collected as she struggles through a violent virus; a son, who without prompting or reward, climbs out of bed to comfort and assist a baby brother; an unexpected word or gesture of kindness spoken to another.

Would that we always see our kids for those moments, and not for the mind-numbing meltdowns. The irony is that many of the characteristics that make some children more difficult than others - stubbornness, willfulness, unfailing determination - are the very things that will make them dynamic, successful adults.

Today when I look at my daughter, I will not see a whiny, overly dramatic six-year old whose meltdowns make me crazy. I will see a strong, capable, gift of a little girl. Maybe she’ll still whine. But it won’t be because that’s who she is. It will only be because she is still learning how to temper those tendencies, how to deal with life in acceptable ways.

Kids will be kids. We need only see the character through the kid to realize how incredible they can truly be.


MommyJ is an aspiring writer and stay at home Mom to four children, (with number five on the way) including a vibrantly active set of 6 year old twins. She lives with her children and husband of nine years in a tiny town in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina - a place she considers the loveliest on earth. While she mourns the absence of any shopping options beyond Wal-Mart, she loves the presence of so many trees to help buffer the constant noisyness of her home. She hikes to enjoy time with her family, runs because her love for food requires it, writes to maintain her sanity and blogs as often as her crazy children and busy schedule allow on her personal blog,

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