One of my most favorite things about being a parent is picking up my little one, Dylan, from school. I mean, it’s like it’s Christmas and I’m Santa. When I open her classroom door, she drops whatever she’s doing, busts into a full sprint towards me, wraps her little hands around my legs, and screams, “MOMMY!” Total heart-melting mama right here!
Well, one day I opened the door to Dylan’s classroom and she was no where to be found! Frantically, I asked her teacher if everything was okay, and she pointed to Dylan coloring in the corner. (As if crayons were more important than mom showing up, right?) Dylan’s teacher expressed that she’d shown a real interest in coloring, lately. And at the tender age of three, she was actually pretty good. Of course, as a proud, ambitious mama, I went total “Dance Mom” on her. I ran to the store, bought a canvas, coloring books, an art station, and of course the 64-count crayon box! After all, my three-year-old would be the next Picasso, and she would totally grow up to take her mom to Paris.
Boy was I wrong. After leaving Dylan alone in the living room with her art set up (including the entire box of 64 Crayons) for ten minutes, I walked backed in to broken crayons all over the living room, a “painting” on my wall and crayon wrappers all over the carpet.
Here’s a glimpse into my thoughts in that moment:
“I’m probably not going to Paris.”
“Dylan isn’t going to be the next Picasso.”
“I just had to give her the entire box of crayons.”
Of course, I attempted to talk to Dylan about what she’d done, and took away her crayon privileges. But, being the strong-willed blessing that she is, she cried and gripped what was left of her crayons tightly, with hopes that I wouldn’t be strong enough to take them from her. I knew exactly what was getting ready to happen—a strong-willed meltdown that’s what.
As usual, she just didn’t understand the consequences, nor did she try. When I asked her to calm down, she cried louder. When I asked her to let go of the crayons, she gripped them tighter. And, when I asked her to help mommy clean up her mess, she crossed her arms and refused.
If you’re a parent of a strong-willed blessing, I’m sure you’ve experienced these types of moments and have been desperately searching for answers. Well, one solution that’s been huge for me is patience, the ability to accept hard moments without getting upset or angry. Being patient is easier said than done, but it’s such a powerful thing, my friends.
Forcing myself to practice patience in these hard moments has truly changed not only me, but my daughter and her ability to practice patience as well. You see, because when you, as a parent, model patience during frustrating moments, you teach your little one to do the same. And the more patient you can be with them, the more patient they can be with themselves in the midst of disappointment, fear, guilt, and shame.
When you practice patience with your strong-willed blessing, you allow yourself to insert peace into the hard moment, which gives room for clear thoughts, the ability to reassure your little one and make room for healthy discipline strategies.
After putting Dylan to bed, while cleaning up the rest of her art catastrophe, I had a moment. I thought about all of the times I hadn’t practiced patience with Dylan, or shown grace, and how much more difficult those moments had become.
The episode with the crayons helped me see something else that is so important—something that I live by every day. It taught me that broken crayons still color. That even though we won’t get it right every time, there’s always another opportunity to get it right. It taught me that at the end of patience, grace is always available, and it gave me hope, that I can indeed successfully raise my strong-willed blessing.
All I need is a lot of prayer for a little bit of patience, and a whole bunch of Clorox wipes.
This article was originally published on Parenting Cue