The Rowdy Daughter

By Veronica

Yesterday I was sitting in the bathroom at church (I’m pregnant – I spend half of church sitting in bathrooms) when I overheard two ladies talking about my daughter. I think it was about my daughter. They never said her name, but it certainly sounded like my daughter. It wasn’t a spiteful conversation and I wasn’t offended at it. They were discussing how important it was for children of a certain age to learn to sit still in the sanctuary during worship, rather than stay in the nursery.

You know that one kid that everyone notices in a crowd? That one kid who is always moving or jumping or dancing when all the other kids are still? That is my daughter. Expect a world-weary, sardonic gleam to enter my eye if you repeat to me the old saw about little boys being more energetic/rowdier/more demanding than little girls. I have heard such claims pronounced with nearly religious certainty, and I’ve learned there is no point in arguing. If you really believe little boys have more energy, then I know you have not spent much time with a girl like JellyBean.

She is my oldest: four years old and she gives off sparks. I’m crazy about her. She has a good heart and is mostly obedient, as long as I make allowances for her nature. Sitting still is not part of her nature. She loves her little sisters, including the one about to be born, and races around the house involving them (sometimes against their will) in imaginative games of swordplay, dragonslaying and daring rescue. She loves, plays, learns, laughs and cries with an fierce intensity that brings color to the world.

I am grateful for having (or almost having – a few weeks to go) four children in five years. My house is messy and chaotic, but there is a lot of laughter (on bad days there is also a lot of whining, but that’s a different subject). One of the many reasons I am grateful for so many children is how it reassures me about my parenting. If JellyBean were my only child, I would be in knots over her rambunctious behavior in church or any other place where children are expected to be docile and orderly. I would wonder what I was doing wrong. I would stress over what other parents thought.

But having two other very different little girls, I know that each child is an individual, and expectations should differ for each. When JellyBean manages 30 minutes in the sanctuary, speaking only in a whisper and restricting her dancing and crawling to the space between me and Daddy in the pew, I am delighted. For her, that is a rare success. If there are other adults in the service who are horrified at her behavior on her worse days (or even her good days), I don’t stress about it. I know that they have not raised a girl like my girl; if they had, they would understand.

And on days that she is particularly public in her rowdiness, I scoop her up into my lap, press my nose into her sweet-smelling hair, and pray, Dear God, please bless these other parents with daughters like JellyBean.

Because I always want to remind myself that it IS a blessing. I do not want my girl to be like other girls. Each of my daughters has her own personality and character, and if JellyBean became the still, quiet princess that so many parents long for, the world would be a poorer place. My life would be more boring. My home would lack speed and enthusiasm. She is the spark that sets our house ablaze, and I love to warm myself by her fire.

Veronica Mitchell also blogs at Toddled Dredge.

29 Responses to The Rowdy Daughter
  1. Byranie
    August 26, 2008 | 12:26 am

    I love this post! I am pregnant with my first daughter (after two boys) and love that you have an energetic girl. I am also inspired by your great perspective. I choked up when I read about on her really rowdy days you scoop her up and pray that others with have your blessing. Thank you!

  2. Kimberly
    August 26, 2008 | 7:45 am

    “If there are other adults in the service who are horrified at her behavior on her worse days (or even her good days), I don’t stress about it.”

    How fantastic. I am such a people pleaser that I am always worried about my performance and my child’s performance. How freeing to know (b/c of your other children) that kids are different and that it doesn’t matter what other people think about your child. That is now a goal of mine!


  3. Tiffanie
    August 26, 2008 | 11:44 am

    Great post! I have three boys and a baby on the way… if my oldest was my only, I’d question my own parenting too. He is my wild child. There are times I wish he would sit still but I’ve learned not to stress over it either. No one has perfect kids, and there are those (rare) days when mine look pretty good.

  4. Jennifer
    August 26, 2008 | 1:29 pm

    Thank you for the reminder. My children (including my daughter) are energetic. I most worry about them wearing their grandparents out when we visit, but they don’t complain!

    I love their personalities and know that since they aren’t docile, someone isn’t going to take advantage of them.

  5. Kelly
    August 26, 2008 | 2:41 pm

    Oh, how I can relate to this post. I was struggling with my middle child and finally my husband, wise soul that he is, said something to the effect of “Well, honey, she just is NOT like her big sister.” Kapow. She will be four in December and I just now figured that one out. Thanks to hubby.

    Excellent post, by the way!

  6. nicole
    August 26, 2008 | 5:28 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this. It was just what I needed to read today. With a child who sounds a lot like JellyBean, I sometimes forget to have such a positive attitude. Your daughters are blessed to call you Mom.

  7. Candace
    August 26, 2008 | 10:29 pm

    I know how you feel but I have a son. The bigger the room the better for him to fun, jump, etc all over the place. He will be the one doing all that and all the other kids are sitting quite with mommy or daddy. I have learned to live with it because well he is 2 years old and well he has fun and never hurts anyone.

  8. Kim
    August 26, 2008 | 10:37 pm

    What a beautiful post! Your daughter is lucky to have you as her mama. Thanks for sharing your love for her and reminding us about what’s important!

  9. Heather
    August 26, 2008 | 11:09 pm

    Thank you so much for this post. I am the mother of a two year old who seems to run circles around her male counterparts. Their mothers explain to me that I have no concept of how difficult it is to raise a boy since I have two girls. All I know is that while their sons are napping my daughter is up playing with her dinosaurs, dragons and cars. I am totally entranced by her and her energy. I just wish the moms of boys would realize that they have not cornered the market on busy kids.

  10. Mommy Zabs
    August 26, 2008 | 11:34 pm

    I have noticed that the more children i have the less uptight I have been about their behavior. You are so right children are different. What is good behavior for one may look different on another. Good for you being secure in how you know your daughter.

  11. Jennifer
    August 27, 2008 | 4:11 pm

    I have a jellybean too. My middle child and full of energy, but absolutely no fear. I will read this to my husband who has chosen to not go to church until she is older because of the looks/comments we have received regarding her inability to sit still/be quiet during the service.

  12. Shelly
    August 29, 2008 | 9:29 am

    What a great post! My daughter sounds like yours – always on the move. You’ve given me a different perspective on her behavior: thank you.

  13. Kelly
    August 30, 2008 | 5:43 pm

    This is such as sweet commentary on your daughter’s uniqueness. She is truly blessed to have you for a mother, Veronica.

  14. edj
    September 3, 2008 | 8:25 am

    I think you are wise. It took me longer than 4 years of parenting to learn to relax and enjoy my children’s differences in public.
    Great post! Your daughter sounds like a lot of fun. I think my daughter would like her a lot too, in spite of their age difference.

  15. :::::::::::: wife mom maniac ::::::::::::
    October 3, 2008 | 2:18 pm

    This reminds me so very much of my daughter, thank you for sharing it. Here’s a blog post by a mamma celebrating her intense kid that I found moving as well

  16. wrongshoes
    October 4, 2008 | 9:56 am

    Fantastic post. Your little girl is so lucky to have a mom like you.

  17. Michele James-Parham
    October 6, 2008 | 1:10 am

    Fantastically stated! I am Blessed with a spirited boy and I hope many more parents can be Blessed with spirited children too…we have much to learn from them!

  18. Rana
    October 10, 2008 | 12:08 am

    Your Jellybean and my Iza(5) would be the best of bouncing friends.She has a twin brother who can’t even keep up with her half the time. I used to be so worried about what people thought during our meetings too, that she was disrupting, but I realized she’s just being her. Sometimes I can’t sit still for long periods why would I expect my daughter too. Every chance I get we are bouncing and running. I chase her around the house laughing. I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

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